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“TO PROTECT AND SERVE”…BUT WHO?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Aug. 7, 2014) — As a result of a report related by Athens, TN resident and registered voter Eugene Whiting after he attended a “Meet & Greet” with Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam in Athens on Wednesday, The Post & Email on Thursday contacted the Public Information Office of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, which is tasked with providing security for the chief executive of the state.
We first spoke with Sgt. Bill Miller, who listened courteously while we related that which Mr. Whiting had told us. We informed Miller that with Mr. Whiting’s permission, we had recorded the interview and also published a letter he had sent to us after he returned home from the event. Miller requested that we send an email summarizing the complaint and promised to investigate our report of intimidation, rudeness, and the demand from the THP plainclothes officers that Mr. Whiting “identify himself.”
We then sent the following to Miller:
From: Sharon Rondeau
Sent: Thu 8/07/14 10:32 AM
To: Bill.Miller@tn.gov (email@example.com)
Thank you for speaking with me just now, Sgt. Miller, regarding the incident I reported on behalf of Tennessee citizen and registered voter Eugene L. Whiting of Athens, TN.
As full disclosure, I have been acquainted with Mr. Whiting and his wife and have found them to be very reliable sources over the last three years.
The details I have from Mr. Whiting of the incident on Wednesday in Athens are as follows:
- He arrived at approximately 9:30 a.m. EDT at Michael’s Restaurant, 2011 Congress Parkway, Athens, TN 37303 in anticipation of the governor’s “Meet & Greet” announced here: http://knoxblogs.com/humphreyhill/2014/08/04/alexander-haslam-campaign-together/
- He said that he had been sitting quietly for about ten minutes when two “suits” asked him who he was and why he was there. When he showed them a business card, they reportedly said, “That’s not good enough” and asked to see his driver’s license. Mr. Whiting said that he was the only person who was asked to produce identification and does not believe it was constitutional. He said he was asked why he was there, to which he reportedly responded, “I want to speak to the governor about corruption in the county.”
- Mr. Whiting said that he and a disabled man were kept isolated from the general public once Gov. Haslam arrived and greeted people in a different location.
- Mr. Whiting reported that when he said he was there to hear the governor, he was told, “You may have to leave” without cause.
- He said that when he got up to go to where Gov. Haslam was shaking hands, he was ordered by one of the “suits,” “Sit down!” At that point, he could hear the governor speaking and see him shaking hands with people, but he reported that the two “suits” blocked his vision and constantly turned back to stare at him in an intimidating way. “I stared right back at ’em,” he told me.
- Mr. Whiting characterized the entire affair as, “I had better security than the governor.”
- Mr. Whiting said he stayed at the event for about an hour.
- After arriving home, Mr. Whiting contacted me both by phone and in writing with the following letter, which I published yesterday:
We then included a full, printer-friendly version of our article of Wednesday containing Mr. Whiting’s letter sent to Gov. Haslam describing his experience found here: http://www.thepostemail.com/2014/08/06/constituent-attends-meet-greet-with-tn-governor-and-is-treated-like-a-common-criminal/
The response received at the close of business on Thursday from the Public Information Office reads as follows:
The Post & Email then sent the following response:
But why was he asked to “identify himself” when no one else was asked to do the same?
Do you think that Mr. Whiting is due an apology for the troopers’ behavior?
Do they deny trying to intimidate him?
Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
P.O. Box 195
Stafford Springs, CT 06076
We will report if and when we receive a response.