Joseph Bryant, a 61-year-old man, was arrested in downtown Nashville Wednesday evening for not wearing a mask.
Bryant was approached by police in the downtown area of Nashville at approximately 6:40 p.m. for not wearing a mask, according to News Channel 5. The police cited Bryant for violating Nashville’s standing mask mandate.
Police said that Bryant had two masks in his pocket when he was stopped.
About an hour later, police saw Bryant in the same area, still without a mask.
Bryant was taken to the jail at the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office at 8:30 p.m.
He was cited and booked for violating Metro Code 2.36.190, which states that “it is unlawful for any person to violate an order of the board of health or of the chief medical director.”
Bryant was held Thursday morning on a $500 bond.
The citation was recalled and Bryant’s case was retired after a meeting between the District Attorney and Bryant’s public defender Thursday afternoon.
Bryant’s case marks the first misdemeanor arrest in Nashville for non-compliance with the mask mandates.
The Nashville Public Defender’s office released a statement Thursday morning, saying it was “outraged” by Bryant’s arrest.
The Public Defender’s office, which is led by Martesha Johnson, referred to what it claims is “blatant blatant disregard from the bars, pedal taverns, party buses, wedding parties and individuals that frequent the Lower Broadway area.”
Comparing this to Bryant’s arrest, the office decried what it calls “wealth based disparities in the criminal legal system [sic],” “the criminalization of poverty,” and “disparate police practices among marginalized and minority communities in Nashville.”
It should be noted that this was not Bryant’s first encounter with the police. He has been arrested 20 times since June 2019 for various charges ranging from assault to drug-related offenses to the patronizing of prostitution. 11 of these charges have been dismissed.
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