HOLLER PODCAST: TEENS FOR EQUALITY

Justin Kanew talks with Jade and Emma Rose from Teens For Equality, the organizers of the largest Black Lives Matter march in Nashville yet. We hear about their experience and they share their perspective on the moment our country is in. Our future is in good hands with these kids!

FULL PODCAST available on Apple Podcasts here, and wherever else you like to listen here.

HOLLER PODCAST: LIVE with ERIK HEIPT, LAWYER in the STERLING HIGGINS CASE

Justin Kanew and Erik Heipt discuss the murder of Sterling Higgins, a Black man from West Tennessee who died at the hands of the cops in a case of police brutality. Warning to listeners that this episode contains descriptions of graphic content and racial violence.

Erik Heipt is a civil rights attorney.

FULL PODCAST available on Apple Podcasts here, and wherever else you like to listen here.

INTERVIEW: NASHVILLE POLICE UNION PRESIDENT JAMES SMALLWOOD

Throughout all this social unrest and discussions of police brutality, white supremacy, and racism, one organization continues to get mentioned: Police unions. The “Fraternal Order of Police”, as they commonly refer to themselves, exist in many cities representing the interests of officers in their dealings with the city.

Different unions have different stipulations in their contracts, but very often what it says in those contracts dictates how situations are handled after officer-involved incidents. Some contracts shield the identity of officers, others ensure the officers continue to get paid throughout investigations, still others limit civilian oversight power.

The “Police Union Contract Project” researched many of the individual union contracts, and can be found here.

NPR just did a story on a recent study that tells us that where police unions are present, police-involved killings – particularly of minorities – rises.

To Nashville’s credit, according to the Police Union Contract Project, many of the problematic stipulations are not in the Metro-Nashville Police Department contract.

That said, recently we saw officers sent to the homes of two local activists, only to drop the charges  hours later, and many – including the ACLU – are calling for Chief Anderson’s resignation.

In the midst of this recent upheaval, we reached out to the President of the Metro Nashville Police Union James Smallwood, and he was willing to speak with us.

Below is that conversation word for word, which can be found exclusively in PODCAST FORM HERE. (SUBSCRIBE!)


HOLLER:  What, from the police union’s perspective, are your priorities right now?

SMALLWOOD:  Our priority is ensuring that our officers will be able to keep the communities that they serve safe. We want to make sure their paid benefits and working conditions are good and that their voices are heard, that we all work together to make the world a better place.

HOLLER:  I guess the questions I have are more about the role of the police union in all of this. Do you see the role of the police union as going to bat for officers no matter what, or is it more about finding a balance?

SMALLWOOD:  Well clearly you have to find a balance, nobody wants a bad cop gone more than a good cop, right, so having the mentality that no matter what we’re going to bat for you, that’s not really what any police officer stands for. That being said, if you pay for a service and expect to be represented, we’ve gotta provide you with that service. So if you’re in a traffic crash and you’re at fault and you call your insurance company and they say, “Well, you were at fault so we’re not going to cover you,” that would be a violation of the agreement that you had with you and your insurance company, and it would be similar with the union and their employee. They’re asking for representation, and it’s our duty to do that.

HOLLER:  So it sounds like you do see it as it’s the role of the union to support the officer first and foremost. I guess that’s kind of the thing that people wonder when it comes to police unions, it always seems to be that no matter what the video shows that unions tend to take the side of the officer, and it sounds like you do see it as their role, no?

SMALLWOOD:  No, that’s not what I said at all. So you’re saying it’s our role to take the side of the officer and no, it’s our role to represent the officer. Just because the officer may or may not be wrong doesn’t give us any determination as to whether or not he or she gets representation.

HOLLER:  So it’s like a lawyer almost.

SMALLWOOD:  Well, yeah, I mean there are criminal defense lawyers out there all the time who have a job to do, and their client may be guilty but they have to represent them. And that may be the case you’re seeing with George Floyd in Minneapolis right now, those officers were clearly wrong and have been charged with a crime, and they’ll have their day in court. I’m sure they have some sort of representation there and that’s probably something they’ve come to expect because he’s paid for a service through his union. That doesn’t mean his Union agrees with what he did, it means they are obligated to provide him with a service. 

HOLLER:  There’s a project called the Police Union Contract Project – the Nashville contract is one of the least problematic from their point of view. It actually got pretty high marks when it comes to police union contracts. There are provisions in other contracts around the country that do seem to set off some alarms, though, in instances like this. For instance, protecting pay for police even when they’re found to be in the wrong, or when they’re under investigation, shielding their identity, blocking civilian oversight – these are things that are not in your contract that are in other contracts. Are these things that you asked for but didn’t get, or are those things that you didn’t think were right to have in these contracts?

SMALLWOOD:  Those are things that we’ve not asked for but you need to be careful about what you may be placing as words that exist in contracts that may not be. I’ve not read these contracts you’re referring to, obviously, and my contract doesn’t include that, but I would assume that keeping things confidential while there’s an investigation underway – that’s reasonable, every officer is entitled to the same due process that any civilian out there in the street has. And the problem is when somebody is under investigation there’s not a whole lot of facts to consume and it’s very easy to draw conclusions. Once you draw conclusions it’s nearly impossible even with facts to show people that, okay this is what really happened, this is why we made that determination. So I can understand the reasoning behind saying, hey while there’s an ongoing investigation we’re going to keep this confidential until we reach the conclusion. The same exists when an officer is under investigation and receives his or her pay. If somebody complains about an officer and they’ve done nothing wrong, and the investigation turns out that they’ve done nothing wrong but we’ve decided arbitrarily to stop paying them because somebody complained on them, that’s a serious problem. You have affected somebody’s life very seriously for absolutely no reason, and to jump to the conclusion of guilt or innocence, and make an employee prove their innocence is not fair in any realm of reasonable representation. I think that’s probably what you’re seeing in those other cities.

HOLLER:  What the other side of that would be is that you’re assuming innocence of the officer, and you’re assuming guilt of the deceased, or the victim, or whoever it might be in that instance.

SMALLWOOD:  That’s not it at all, that’s not even close to the truth. The other side of that is we understand if you have a complaint, we want to investigate it fully to get all the facts. It’s not saying that you’re a liar – that’d be like saying hey, Joe Smith we’re investigating you for theft, because this individual over here has accused you, but we’re going to go ahead and arrest you right now instead of investigating it, finding the conclusions, and making sure that we’re getting it right so that we don’t affect your life negatively for something that may not be the truth. It happens quite frequently, I mean people tend to embellish stories quite a bit, whether it’s related to law enforcement or not. We all know that there’s folks out there who don’t want to tell the truth for whatever reason, and we have to investigate. We have to get the facts, you have to get it right whenever you’re going to affect somebody’s life, and that’s why officers are entitled to the same due process that civilians are.

HOLLER:  A lot of the officers that we’ve seen involved in some of these incidents turn out to have a number of complaints against them. Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, for example, had 17 complaints, and was involved in some pretty high-level incidents before this. What is the general rule of thumb for how many of these incidents are allowed before there’s some sort of consequence with an officer? By the way, I’m a union guy, I’m in a union myself, so I’m very much pro-union. I’m just trying to understand the role that the union plays in providing protection for people that may have problematic records.

SMALLWOOD:  Well, I think if you researched this topic appropriately, at least for our agency you’re going to see that the protection that is attached to this narrative that’s traveling across the country – there’s not as much protection as people think at least not in Tennessee or here in Nashville. There is no solid number of complaints or investigations that will automatically trigger some sort of determination. That would be completely unreasonable because we have hundreds of thousands of encounters over a career as individual officers, and any of those who can turn into a complaint, justified or not. They could be minuscule as the officer was having a bad day and he was rude to me. There’s a progressive discipline scale in place, and those officers are counseled and trained to try and change their behavior just like any other disciplinary scale that you see in society. But the jump to the worst possible conclusion of well, this guy has had five or six complaints so let’s fire him – let’s look at the totality of circumstances, let’s look at what instances of those complaints. And it’s easy to go oh, well, there’s nine complaints in officer Smallwood’s file, so obviously he’s a bad cop. What were those nine complaints founded on? Did somebody review them and find out that eight out of nine of them were based not in truth, and the department investigated and found out that there were things that came into play that made them not factual? Officers get complained on all the time for writing traffic tickets simply because somebody doesn’t like to receive a traffic ticket, does that mean it’s a bad officer? No, that means someone’s not happy about the outcome of an encounter and that’s not something we can control.

HOLLER:  Whose discretion does it end up being for what happens to the officer? Is it just up to the senior presiding officer, whoever’s in charge? Does the union get involved in that?

UNION CHIEF:  The union will provide a representative only if the individual requests one, so if the individual says hey I’d like a representative to sit with me, I’ve never been through this before, we’ll provide a representative. But we don’t have any influence on what the outcome of the investigation will be, that would be a conflict of interest for us. Folks that are attached to either internal affairs or the office of professional accountability – their independent offices will investigate the officer in claims of wrongdoing, and they’ll come out with a finding. Or in, more minor cases, like you know, I stopped somebody today and they’re upset about a traffic ticket they received, the direct supervisor of the officer will review and make recommendations on how to proceed.

HOLLER:  There’s a study that NPR just featured on a Planet Money episode, about an economist’s finding that in cities where there is a presence of a union, police killings of minorities go up. The idea, I think, is that there’s job security. Do you feel like job security plays a part in some of these instances, or do you think that this is just random?

SMALLWOOD:  Absolutely not. Well and I guess my question on that study would be that did those study all encompass major cities, or what are all the variables that come into play, because just saying that where there are police unions there’s more killings… look at the facts of the case. We are trying to find reasons to blame police unions for things that happened that outside of our control. We’re trying to blame police officers for things that are outside of our control. The Minneapolis incident that is one that should never have happened, I agree 100%, and you’ve seen organizations and agencies from all across the country come out and condemn those actions. That should be a very clear signal to you that we recognize when wrongdoing happens, and we’re willing to point it out. Saying there’s more killings in a city because there is a union there, surely you see how ridiculous that sounds.

HOLLER:  You seem like a reasonable guy, but in Minneapolis, the union president is out there saying all kinds of stuff. They’re not always as reasonable as you seem to be. In St. Louis, there’s a similar situation. So it seems like there tend to be a certain bravado or challenging of the narrative by police unions sometimes, and I think that’s why people tend to assign that role to them in these situations. Do you think that there’s something wrong in the country with police-community relations, and if so, what would you recommend? I think right now we’re at a boiling point, people are looking for answers. Do you, as the president of a police union of a major city in the South, have any thoughts about what actually can be changed?

SMALLWOOD:  I think at least for the Fraternal Order of Police here in Nashville, I’m always looking to do better. I’m always looking to improve, but certainly we are always engaging in our community and trying to find new ways to build bridges. The FOP has a youth camp that we’ve had for more than 50 or 60 years that actually goes into communities and has kids that we deal with. When we identify kids on a call that may need a little bit of relationship building with the police or may be down-on-their-luck or for whatever reason, and the officer says that child could benefit from a free Camp week with a police officer, they sign them up, and then we will take them for a week long trip to our youth camp. We will work all week long with them playing basketball, or baseball, or kickball, and taking them swimming in the lake, or fishing, or kayaking. There’s a whole host of different activities that we do. But the whole concept is to build positive lasting relationships with those kids, and that will pay dividends long-term because they need to learn that we are their friends, not the enemy. That’s huge for us, that’s one of the things I’m most proud of, as our organization moves forward.

We’ve expanded on that to reach out to our community where we can identify people that are in need of financial aid, where there’s no social program that can step in and help, or where there is no welfare program. We say hey, we understand you need help with this we’re going to help you overcome that adversity. Officers can actually reach out to the FOP and say hey, we’re here on this call and Mrs. Smith has three children who are sleeping on the floor because they can’t afford a bed for their kids, and we buy bunk beds for them. So we actually step in and purchase bunk beds for these families and work to build that positive relationship. You’ve seen things like in West Precinct where they’ve developed a community engagement team and they’ve seen significant reductions in crime. That engagement team has been working in an area that had high crime, and that precinct has now seen a significant reduction because of that engagement with the community. Does that mean that everything we’re doing is working? No, we can do better. We should be doing better, you know the FOP, as much as we’d like to, there are time constraints. We need to be sharing conversations with people from our community, we need to sit down and share perspectives from both sides, because if one side does not understand fully the perspective of the other side we will never accomplish our goals and make our community a safer and stronger place.

HOLLER:  Do you think it helps when officers live in the area that they work in?

SMALLWOOD:  You know what’s very concerning about that question is that officers in the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department cannot afford to live in their communities. They can’t. They cannot afford to live in the Nashville community, and so it’s very difficult to answer that question because we’re simply not paid enough to survive with a living wage, and survive the cost of living in Nashville. We were driven out by high increases and the cost of living not keeping up with salaries. I think it’s important that we do continue to have those conversations with our community, and police officers are human beings. We’re not perfect, but we strive to do everything we can to help. You see them as Sunday school teachers, as baseball coaches, as Boy Scout leaders, whatever you name it. When they’re not wearing the uniform, they’re generally engaged in their community anyway. So we’re not just a badge in the uniform, we are humans, we are people, and we are out there engaged in every aspect we can possibly do, we just want to help make the world a better place.

HOLLER:  I ask this next one acknowledging that Nashville has not been really a part of this but we have seen a lot of videos of police… first of all, let me acknowledge we’ve seen a lot of looting and destruction on the part of people. I mean the vast majority of them have been peaceful protests, but there obviously has been problematic stuff, including here in Nashville. On the flip side, the vast majority of police have handled themselves well, but we’ve also seen a bunch of videos where police have gotten out of control and done things that are completely unnecessary. There are something like 500 examples from the past 2 weeks.

(FOLLOW THIS THREAD…)

HOLLER: When you see those videos, does it feel like that’s actually doing police a disservice when they act that way, or do you feel like there might be a justification for it?

SMALLWOOD:  So here’s where we come to a problem, and this is where you’ll go back to, well police unions are just there to stand up and protect officers whether or not they’re wrong. I don’t know the facts of a situation that happened in Buffalo, New York, or Louisville, Kentucky, or St. Louis, Missouri, or wherever any of these protests may have taken place. I know what was captured in the 30 second video, but I have questions. I want to know, were officers giving reasonable commands to leave the area, were they given ample time to leave and the person either refused or charged at the officer, or walked towards the officers. Those are all variables that come into play, and it would not be appropriate for me without getting all the facts to comment as to whether or not that’s right or wrong. I can comment as to whether it looked right around but that would be very reckless.

HOLLER:  I know I’m playing devil’s advocate here, but that doesn’t always seem to be the case. When it comes to people who aren’t police, like in Minnesota there were officers driving by people walking on the highway, and a guy just stops and pepper sprays a guy for no reason and drives off. It seems like it just creates this air of distrust which feels like it makes you guys less safe in the end.

SMALLWOOD:  I’m not sure what event you’re talking about I’ve not seen it.

HOLLER:  I’ll send you some links!

UNION CHIEF:  Please do.

HOLLER:  I definitely will. The last thing I’ll ask you about, and I think I already know the answer, but there is a refrain from activists right now to defund the police. Some people are taking it literally, and some people mean it literally which is like to not have police anymore, but other people mean that police budgets, in comparison to what we spend on other priorities like education, healthcare, that kind of thing, are fairly bloated. Memphis, for example, has a vast majority of the budget. I actually don’t know what it is in Nashville, but we are spending like nothing on education in Memphis from the city budget, and housing is also a small amount. The argument that people make is if we were spending more on other priorities, then your job would be easier because there would be less militarization of police and there be less imprisonment. Essentially it’s a vicious cycle, where the more we spend on policing, the more we spend on locking people up, the more people are down on their luck, and the more they’re going to commit crimes. If we just break the cycle and start spending on other things and invest in people, and trust in people, that that might actually ultimately help your job out. What do you think about that philosophy?

SMALLWOOD:  So, the reality is there are always going to be bad actors in our society. There are always going to be people out there who are willing to rob other innocent people who are willing to burglarize people’s homes, who are willing to break in and kidnap children, and continue the sex trafficking rings that are riddled in our society. There are horrible things that we see as police officers on a daily basis, and while social and community projects are great, and they should be funded and, absolutely we should be focusing on trying to get people to stop doing that, these people are always going to exist in our society. When somebody robs you and you’ve defunded the police, who’s going to come who’s going to answer that call? And saying we need to take money from away from law enforcement to fund these community projects is a lot like saying we need to rob Peter to pay Paul. We’re not doing any services by saying “defund the police.”  That’s not the solution. The solution is to find new, creative, and innovative ways to have our society reduce the violence, to reduce the victimization of our communities, and to reduce people terrorizing our neighborhoods. When we find those real solutions, I think you’ll see that that problem will solve itself. Policing is not the crux of all our socio-economic problems that exist in America. We are a nation of laws. Unfortunately those laws have to be enforced because not everybody wants to follow them. I think that that’s a very dangerous idea.

HOLLER:  I agree that it’s not the crux, but what others would say is that maybe it’s not the answer to everything either. That we always tend to turn to the police to handle everything, like mental health issues, and that kind of thing. That there’s too much on the plate of the police that actually they’re not properly trained for.

SMALLWOOD:  I agree that we could use more training and that people turn to the police for far too much. There are things that we need, like mental health responses. We need more training for that, but here’s the thing, when the call comes in, say there’s an individual suffering with a mental health crisis. And that individual either has a knife or a gun – are we going to send a social worker to the house by themselves to deal with that mental health crisis and have them take all the risks? I think the reasonable person in society says that doesn’t make sense. That’s why law enforcement exists. We stand on the line between danger and chaos and civility in our society. While yes, bringing a social worker to deal with a mental health crisis…there are crises beyond that that are real dangers to our society that need to be resolved. Sometimes that can’t always happen, so it’s not reasonable to say well if we fund all these social issues, we fund all these community projects, then we won’t need police officers anymore. To me that just doesn’t make sense. Even if I wasn’t a police officer, that doesn’t make any sense to me. It doesn’t stand to any kind of reason or logic.

HOLLER:  Do you understand why maybe black people might feel that way in general?

SMALLWOOD:  Why they feel what way?

HOLLER:  Why they feel like they can’t really trust police. I know black people who are afraid to call the police even when they need a cop.

SMALLWOOD:  And I think that’s why we need to get back to having reasonable conversations not based in emotion and rhetoric. I can see why, especially when you’ve got folks who are villainizing law enforcement, why there might be some concern. But frankly, law enforcement exists to help and to intervene when there’s a problem. When you look across the country… let’s just look at Nashville. Nashville has over 1 million police contacts per year. 99.9% of those contacts end in a positive or protective way. There are a few that do not, and those officers that are involved were held accountable for their actions. But for the majority, just like you said about peaceful protesters – there’s a few people in those crowds who want to be agitators and create problems, and riot, and loot, and steal, and pillage, and we ask the police to stand there and deal with those problems. The same exists in the law enforcement profession. The majority of us are here to serve our community, like counselors and social workers, to intervene in a crisis, to help where help is needed. There are a few that get painted, that made mistakes, or are bad actors, and they paint the entire profession with those few who make those bad actions. I think that’s where we need to have those real conversations with people in our communities and say look, if you want to be reasonable we’ll be reasonable, if you want to talk facts we’ll talk facts, but if you want to go, we’ll everybody’s bad because one person, but that standard doesn’t apply to us, that’s not reasonable. That’s not logical, and that’s where we get lost in the weeds.

HOLLER:  Is there enough de-escalation training?

SMALLWOOD:  We are huge proponents of de-escalation training, and we’re also huge proponents of training and general. Frankly, there’s not enough training. We would love to train more, but training cost more people and money. It takes more people to man the streets while officers are down getting more training, and it costs money to train those officers.

HOLLER:  When you say training, what are you thinking of?

SMALLWOOD:  All across the board, whether it be mental health crises, de-escalation, or any of the training that may pertain to the law enforcement profession. We need more training, and we’re always saying train us more, train us more, train us more, but there are limitations on how much training is reasonable and how much we can actually get done.

HOLLER:  Would your officers be receptive to it?

SMALLWOOD:  We already have the escalating training, yeah.

HOLLER:  I mean other stuff, like mental health issues and things like that.

UNION CHIEF:  I’m sure if you ask the police department they’ll show you the curriculum. If you look at the curriculum, there’s already mental health training, there’s already those kinds of things that people are saying police officers need to be doing, like implicit bias training. We are doing these things, like de-escalation training. We are doing these things proactively, but there’s one thing to remember, and that’s that de-escalation requires cooperation and it’s a two-way street. As much as we would love for every situation to deescalate, that’s just not always the case. There are people out there who do not want to comply. There people out there who are looking for a fight, and we can de-escalate all we want, and they will not cooperate with that de-escalation tactic. We have to rise to the level that they’re at at that point, because we have just as much of a right to go home at the end of a shift is anybody else does, and if somebody doesn’t want to work with us and de- escalate as we try to deescalate the situation then we have to come to their level and make sure that that threat doesn’t continue to threaten our community and ourselves.

HOLLER:  As a final question, there’s a bill right now for Constitutional Carry, basically permitless carry, in Tennessee. I know there are some law enforcement officers that are against this, do you guys have a position on that?

SMALLWOOD:  This is gonna sound like a cop out, but any comment on legislation has to come from our State FOP office, not from a Local.

HOLLER:  Well, James, I appreciate you doing this, I’m a union guy. I think you’re a reasonable guy, and I think that there are different union presidents throughout the country that are going to give you different answers and different attitudes, and so I appreciate you taking the time.  I hope you understand that people are just scared and frustrated, and in the age of video this stuff really leaves a lasting impact. That’s where people are coming from, and I just hope the lines of communication are open. I hope you guys stay open to some of these ideas because people feel like something needs to change, as this all has amounted to something here. So hopefully that’ll be something that’s mutually beneficial.

SMALLWOOD:  I appreciate that, and as long as things are reasonable, I think we are open to conversation. It’s when things become unreasonable and are painting pictures that don’t really exist, that are not based in reality or not based in fact – that’s when we start to lose control of our society, so I think we all need to be communicating better, we all need to be sharing perspectives. I think that a three second video does not show what a 30 minute call was. We see it time, and time, and time again where somebody has taken a cell phone video, narrowed it down to a three second clip, and then when we get the full video, we see oh, well x, y, and z happened that led to this, and now, with the facts that surround it, it’s reasonable. That’s not what happened in Minneapolis, it’s just general talking about what we see time and time again when law enforcement videos get released on the internet. Minneapolis is a completely separate and independent issue, George Floyd should still be alive today. Unfortunately there’s nothing I can do to change that, I’m in Nashville.

HOLLER:  There’s been a bunch of them, there’s been a buildup here. If it hadn’t been for the 30 or 40 that happened beforehand…it’s an explosion, this isn’t an isolated incident. I think that’s part of the problem. But I understand what you’re saying. Thank you for your time, maybe down the line we can circle back.

SMALLWOOD:  Sure, thanks.

“LEGISLATIVE COVER-UP” – Sen. Kerry Roberts & TN GOP Ignore Scathing Prison Audit

Despite a SHOCKING AUDIT & WITNESS TESTIMONY revealing TN’S PRISONS/CORE CIVIC misreport deaths/abuse, mistreat inmates – Core Civic donation recipient Sen. Kerry Roberts & the TN GOP vote to do nothing, extend the Dept 4 years.

Watch the HIGHLIGHTS:

VIDEO: Nashville Trump 2020 Co-Chair Comes Out AGAINST Private Prisons

On Fox Nashville’s Politics in Focus Sunday, Republican strategist and Trump 2020 Davidson County Co-Chair Rick Williams came out against private prisons, which flies in the face of Republican policy.

ALSO – Davidson Democrats black caucus chair Jasper Hendricks wondered aloud why private prisons get more per inmate than state-run prisons. A good question.

Tell your local reps it’s time to stop letting people profit off of the incarceration of human beings, especially at the border. President Trump has increased the investment in private prisons tremendously, as has the state of Tennessee under Governor Bill Lee.

#ColludyRudy: Giuliani Seeking Criminal Counsel in Nashville?

Eagle-eyed Nashvillians, including Tennessean reporter Natalie Allison, have spotted Rudy Giuliani, personal attorney and consigliere to President Trump and chief Ukrainian arm twister, in Nashville. We’re pretty confident he ain’t here for the hot chicken.

Rumors have swirled: Is he here for visits with Sen. Marsha Blackburn, another notorious Trump defender and smearer of actual patriots?

Allison reported Monday that Giuliani denied being in Tennessee to see local lawyer Jay Sekulow, another Trump attorney.

But, a local attorney well connected in government circles and reliable Holler source has proposed a theory.

As first reported by Reuters Monday, federal prosecutors have subpoenaed records belonging to Giuliani and his consulting firm. The subpoena doesn’t accuse Giuliani of wrongdoing but does specify the work is part of an investigation of money laundering, wire fraud, campaign finance violations, obstruction of justice, making false statements, and and violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Which brings us to our theory: Richard W. Westling, an attorney in Epstein Becker & Green’s Nashville and Washington, DC offices, was added as an integral part of Trump associate Paul Manafort’s defense team in 2018. Prior to that, Westling, who counts both tax law and — Shock! Government and internal investigations — among his expertise, was on the defense team for U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous. Porteous, of Louisiana, was impeached and removed from the bench for perjury in signing false financial disclosure forms under oath.

Westling’s bio on Epstein’s website says: “Clients call upon Mr. Westling when facing complex compliance challenges, government investigations, high-profile enforcement actions, or the prospect of severe criminal, civil, or administrative actions.” (Boldface is ours.)

We left a message with Westling’s office to ask if he’s representing Giuliani, but at publication time, had not heard back.

 

CHAINING PREGNANT WOMEN TO CHAIRS

Below is Channel 5’s new report on Clay County jail shackling pregnant women to chairs for days at a time.
Not mentioned in the report: State Senator Raumesh Akbari and Rep. Karen Camper had a bill to rein in this heinous practice, but it was VOTED DOWN by Republicans Rep. Andrew Farmer, Justin Lafferty for State Representative 89th District, and Rep Chris Todd
 
While Gov. Bill Lee & the GOP supermajority tell us how great things are in Tennessee, Clay County just lost their hospital and their jail is so poor they’re shackling pregnant women for extending periods. #RealStateOfTheState
 
Holler at Farmer, Todd, and Lafferty if you disagree with what they did.

Sheriff Spangler Addresses Detective Fritts’ Comments

“Those violent, hate-filled comments are not reflective of our people.”

On Monday, Sheriff Spangler of addressed the sermons of Detective Fritts calling for LGBT people to be executed.

Fritts was relieved of duty, not fired. He still gets monthly retirement pay.

VIDEO: PART 2 – Knox County Detective Wants LGBT People Executed

Knox Sheriff’s Detective/Pastor Fritts – who wants to execute LGBT people – says getting drunk & “committing” sodomy can be forgiven… Three’s Company & Bing Crosby were trying to desensitize us to sodomy… and we should tip LGBT people REALLY well.

Watch PART 1 HERE.

PART 2:

Casada-Jones “Special Prosecutor” Northcott Won’t Recognize Same-Sex Marriage, Defying Supreme Court

We previously revealed that Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott, special prosecutor on the Glen Casada-Justin Jones case, made deeply Islamophobic Facebook comments, and continues to hold those views.

The Holler has now unearthed video in which Northcott says that despite a 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, he refuses to recognize it as the law of the land, won’t prosecute same-sex domestic assaults as “domestic” cases, and even encourages county clerks not to process same-sex marriages – saying he would use his “prosecutorial discretion” to make sure they aren’t charged.

VIDEO:

One of the most explosive scandals in the scandal-tornado surrounding Tennessee Speaker of the House Glen Casada – who has said he will be resigning his speakership possibly as soon as next week – has been the possibility that his office falsified the date on an email to frame civil rights activist Justin Jones, to show that Jones violated a no-contact order and have him thrown in jail.

Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk recused himself from that case, saying that because he was the recipient of the email in question he couldn’t be impartial.

The Casada-Jones case then went to the Tennessee Attorneys General Conference, which sent it to a “special prosecutor” – Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott.

Recently The Holler revealed deeply Islamophobic Facebook comments by Northcott in which he referred to the Islamic faith as “evil” and equated it with the KKK and the Aryan Nation, while also saying there are “no constitutional rights”, only rights bestowed upon us by the “One True God”.

Our report prompted formal complaints from Muslim rights groups CAIR and AMAC calling for Northcott’s resignation.

As it turns out, Muslims may not be the only community who have reason for concern with Northcott.

We’ve just discovered the above video from March of 2018, at the Chafer Theological Seminary Pastor’s Conference, in which Northcott gives an hour-long speech about “The Local Church’s Role in Government”.

After his speech, Northcott is asked what a Christian county clerk who is against gay marriage should do when a same-sex couple shows up for a marriage license.

The questioner asks:

“Let’s say the federal government does something ridiculous like legalize gay marriage, and you’re a Christian county clerk working in a marriage license office… (joking) this is all hypothetical… and you refuse to follow the federal law, and the matter gets Brought to the district attorney. Whoever that might be. How as Christians do you think we should deal with all those situations?”

Northcott begins his answer by questioning the authority of the Supreme Court:

“5 people in black dresses rule us.”

He says that with the Obergefell V. Hodges ruling, in which the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples, and required all 50 states to perform and recognize the marriages on the same terms and conditions as the marriages of opposite-sex couples, the Supreme Court was “legislating policy”:

“If you ever read their opinion, they don’t base it on the constitution, they don’t base it upon law, they don’t base it on anything… They start in the very first paragraph by saying ‘we think it is a better policy for homosexual marriage to be legitimized, therefore we’re gonna rule this way.”

Actually, Obergefell V. Hodges was based on both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In fact, the very first paragraph does talk about the constitution- in fact, the very first two words  of Justice Kennedy’s opinion are “The Constitution”.

Northcott then goes on to address the *hypothetical* situation about the Christian clerk faced with a decision about whether or not to issue a same sex marriage license. He makes it clear he doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage as a prosecutor, and advises the clerk not to “succumb” either. :

“As to the clerk, it just boils down to are you gonna do what God says? Or are you gonna do what man says? And the clerk will probably lose their job either immediately or through election if they take a stand on God’s Truth. We are not saved from the consequences of standing on the truth… that would be my advice to the clerk: Don’t succumb.

As to what a District Attorney like him would then do to the clerk, he points to “prosecutorial discretion” and the “unfettered” authority D.A.’s have as a way for him to avoid punishing Christian clerks:

“D.A.’s have what’s called prosecutorial discretion. Y’all need to know who your D.A. is – y’all give us a LOT of authority whether you know it or not… we can choose to prosecute anything, and we can choose not to prosecute anything, up to and including murder. It’s our choice, unfettered, so to deal with that you elect a good Christian man as D.A. and they’ll make sure that they at least don’t get prosecuted criminally.”

Northcott explains that the Supreme Court decision affected his profession in ways many people don’t realize, particularly concerning “domestic assault” charges, which carry heavier punishments than “simple assault” charges. Because treating assault charges between same-sex couples as “domestic assaults” would be to recognize same-sex marriage, Northcott says he does not, and accuses the Supreme Court of “social engineering”:

“So the social engineers on the Supreme Court decided that we now have homosexual marriage. I disagree with them. What do I do with domestic assaults?… The reason that there’s extra punishment on domestic assaults is to recognize and protect the sanctity of marriage. And I said there’s no marriage to protect. So I don’t prosecute them as domestics.”

He implies this isn’t the only way this view affects his work, saying “that is one of many decisions like that that you face (as a D.A.)”, and adds “you need someone who will do an evaluation on those terms in making those decisions” – which appears to mean voters should elect Christians who will similarly disobey Supreme Court rulings when they believe the rulings go against “God’s Truth”.

Northcott then finishes his answer by returning to the hypothetical clerk, saying not only would he not prosecute her, he’d embrace her:

“If your specific situation came to me I’d pat her on the back, give her a hug, and say ‘go at it.'”

The rest of Northcott’s speech about the role of the church in government makes it clear he doesn’t believe the “lie” about separation of church and state, and quite the contrary believes “government was created by God” and therefore church and state are inextricable:

He says only faithful Christians should hold public office as “ministers of God”, and that the role of the churches is to prepare those “faithful men” to hold those positions:

He also goes on to talk about the “Religious Test” which remains in the Tennessee constitution to this day, and in his eyes means that only Christians should serve in office in the state:

“The founders of the state of Tennessee recognized that only Christians could adequately understand and implement the purpose of all government offices. It’s still in our constitution.”

Article 9, section 2 of the Tennessee constitution does in fact say:

“No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.”

But while “No person who denies the being of God” seems to rule out only atheists, Northcott insists the clause refers to “the God of the Gospel… the only One True God”… and hopes “one of those crazy groups that hates religion” doesn’t figure it out and sue to have the clause removed.

Northcott adds:

“If there are no faithful Christians, there’s no one out there to elect and to hold these offices.”

He also tacks on a few words for the media, who he says are in the “back pockets” of “unfaithful men”:

When you get a faithful man into office and he takes principled stands, guess who’s gonna be upset? All those unfaithful men. Well guess who they’ve got in their back pocket? The media. All the most vocal enemies of Christ are in their back pocket. So what happens? The faithful man gets attacked from all sides. Everything is misconstrued, give you half the information… I don’t know if you realize this, but the media twists things and have an agenda they want to promote.”

He says if Christians step out of government, other “enemies” will fill in:

“Atheists, humanists, Muslims… If we step out, we turn it over to the Enemy.”

And adds at the end that churches should essentially tell their congregations who to vote for:

“Knowing who your political leaders are is a form of worship. If you are going to elect ministers of God, I think it’s up to the church to make sure those in their congregation are informed on that decision.”

The LGBT community doesn’t appear to be the only victims of Northcott’s “prosecutorial discretion”. In 2016 there was an incident in Coffee County in which police responded to a domestic dispute during which a woman named Cindy Lowe had been badly bruised and beaten, but Northcott appears to have used his “prosecutorial discretion” to drop the charges against Joseph Floied, seemingly because Floied is related to Adam Floied, assistant chief of the Manchester Police Department.

Here are some graphic pictures from the incident, posted by Lowe on Facebook:

And this is a Facebook post from Lowe after our previous article about Northcott’s Islamophobia:

It’s worth pointing out that in 2000, the Supreme Court of Tennessee had this to say about the role of “public prosecutors” and “prosecutorial discretion” in our judicial system, saying that it should be used “without discrimination or bias”:

Tenn. R. Sup.Ct. 8, EC 7-13.

In short, public prosecutors hold a unique office in our criminal justice system.   Contrary to the State’s contention on appeal, prosecutors are expected to be impartial in the sense that they must seek the truth and not merely obtain convictions. They are also to be impartial in the sense that charging decisions should be based upon the evidence, without discrimination or bias for or against any groups or individuals.  Yet, at the same time, they are expected to prosecute criminal offenses with zeal and vigor within the bounds of the law and professional conduct. See Berger, 295 U.S. at 88, 55 S.Ct. at 633.

As for the issue of same-sex marriage domestic violence, an American Bar report on the domestic violence “epidemic” in America tells us domestic violence is in fact a major issue in the LGBT community:

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGBT) people experience domestic and intimate partner violence and sexual violence at rates similar to or higher than heterosexual and/or cisgender people… studies confirm that significant numbers of transgender people are subjected to intimate partner violence… Unfortunately, in a number of jurisdictions people who are abused by a partner of the same legal sex are unable to access vital legal protections.”

Northcott was recently selected by the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference to be a member of the group’s legislative committee, which advises the Tennessee General Assembly regarding laws and issues concerning criminal justice and public safety. This is the second year Northcott has been asked to serve on the committee.

If you agree LGBT people should be afforded the same protections as everyone else in America, and that District Attorneys should not be disregarding Supreme Court rulings and taking the laws of the land entirely into their own hands while hiding behind “prosecutorial discretion”, Holler at District Attorney Northcutt HERE: 931-723-5057

And if you have concern about Northcott’s ability to handle his duties regarding the Jones-Casada case, or any other case, Holler at the Tennessee Attorneys General Conference to express them HERE: grjones@tndagc.org

Lastly, and importantly, if you’re in Coffee County, and you believe Northcott may have mishandled your case, email us at TheTNHoller@gmail.com – we have some people you should talk to.