Elderly vet arrested for asking town officials to speak louder in meeting; community rallies

A 76-year-old man was arrested at a public meeting on Friday for asking board members to raise their voices.

Veteran Eddie Overholt was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest for asking Greenville, Tenn. Mayor Alan Broyles and cohorts to speak up. The Greene County Board Room at the time was filled to capacity, discussing the contentious topic of a new nitrogen-producing plant building a pipeline to dump its runoff water into the Nolichucky River, WATE ABC6 reported.

Board members backs to audience Screenshot, Greenville Power & Light
Board members’ backs to audience
Screenshot, Greenville Power & Light

Fearful of polluting the river and contaminating their ground wells, many attendees were opposed to the plan, and some board members sat with their backs to the audience while many spoke in low tones.

After applause and interjections had interrupted the meeting, the Mayor stood and warned listeners that anyone else interjecting would be removed from the room. That’s when Overholt said, “Would y’all speak up until the whole audience can hear you?” and was arrested.

At arraignment Monday morning Overholt pleaded not guilty and said he would fight this until charges were dropped.

Over the weekend, the Tennessee Open Records Counsel told News Channel 11WJHL they had received 42 complaints from community members who were rallying around Overholt.

“If there’s older folks there that can’t hardly hear good, you know, and they’re hard of hearing or something, it seems like the committee had something to hide,” said Cocke County resident Gary Susong.

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Tennessee Executive Director for Open Government Deborah Fisher told News 11 that “It’s very important for a governing entity to set up a meeting, especially when they know the meeting’s going to draw a large crowd, to set it up so that they can be heard and avoid these kinds of upset citizens.”

Reactions in social media were steadfastly in support of the courageous veteran.

Watch the video here via WATE-TV

 

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