Invited citizen journalist at GOP rally violently arrested for recording speakers

Nydia Tisdale, a citizen journalist, was invited to a GOP rally in Atlanta, but State Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens demanded that she (and not other, more friendly press) stop recording his speech; when she refused, he summoned a deputy who violently arrested her and then charged her with felony obstruction after she elbowed him while he was bending her over and pressing his groin into her buttocks.

Dawson County GOP chair Linda Clary Umberger walked out, and later spoke in support of Tisdale ("If I had been her, I would have elbowed him in the face, too"). Attorney General Sam Olens spoke from the stage in Tisdale's defense, and asked the owner of the facility to drop the trespassing charge that Tisdale also faces.

The police have released her on bail, but have not returned her $1500 camera, without which she cannot continue her work.

It began with a speech by state Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, who has earned local renown for speaking off the cuff. Last August, Hudgens became a video star on Democratic websites, when he declared himself an Obamacare "obstructionist."

But on Saturday, Hudgens' target was Democrat Michelle Nunn, the U.S. Senate candidate, and her recent debate performance with Republican David Perdue. "I thought I was going to absolutely puke," the state insurance commissioner said to much laughter.

And then he looked at Tisdale, who was on the same front row as Gov. Nathan Deal and his wife. "I don't know why you're videotaping," Hudgens said.

Organizers of the event said they had barred Democratic trackers and their cameras – which they could, given that it was on private property. But Tisdale is not a tracker. "I don't sell my work. I put it up on YouTube," she would later explain.

How a plan to keep a GOP rally off the Internet went awry [Jim Galloway/AJC]