I was very struck by this story from the periphery of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, Protester jailed, denies he’s a terrorist, in which a local police officer argued that an arrested protestor should be held without bail during the convention because he was on an (unspecified) national terrorist watch list — probably this one.
As far as I am aware, this is the first documented example of a non-air-travel-related domestic consequence of being on a ‘terrorist watch list':
Tyson, who describes himself on his Facebook page as a carpenter with a “veggie farm,” says he has no idea how he wound up on the government’s terrorist watch list. He just wants to save the rain forest. The only dings on his record, at least as far as he knows, consist of fishing for trout out of season and driving while impaired.
The 27-year-old, known as “Jimmy” around Charlotte’s activist community, was pulled over Sunday near a building where protesters plan their demonstrations. He was charged with driving with a revoked license. And then he was thrown in jail under exceptionally high bail — $10,000.
The arresting officer asked a magistrate to keep him behind bars for the duration of the Democratic National Convention, which ends Thursday night. He advised against releasing Tyson on his promise to show up for court.
“Why do you feel suspect is a risk?” a bail sheet asked, and the officer wrote: “Known activist + protester who is currently on a terrorist watch list. Request he be held due to DNC being a National Special Security Event.”
I should note that from one prespective the system did work, after some delay.
Tyson spent Sunday night and most of Monday in jail. He called a legal hot line for protesters and was given an attorney, Derek Fletcher. The Charlotte lawyer got before a judge, Lisa Bell, on Monday and convinced her to lower Tyson’s bail to $2,500. He walked free on Monday night.
On the other hand, speech was chilled:
“I have done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide,” Tyson said as he left the Mecklenburg County Jail. “I believe this is an attempt to stifle my First Amendment rights and keep my voice from being heard.”
He said he was no longer interested in protesting during the convention, believing police had targeted him. “At this point,” he said, “I would like to go home and visit my parents and play with my dog.”
If the CNN article by Ted Metzger and Ann O’Neill is accurate, I think this small incident is actually a big deal.