Protesters Say They Were Bullied By Police

Scientology Protestor Says He Was Arrested For No Reason

WSMV-TV News, Nashville/May 6, 2009

The tape, protesters said, proves they were assaulted and bullied by security guards for no reason.

A Middle Tennessee State University student doesn't want his name revealed after what happened on April 25 at Nashville's new Church of Scientology on Eighth Avenue. The man is in a group called Anonymous that protests Church of Scientology events.

In late April, as the group walked up Eighth Avenue looking for a place to set up a protest, they were approached by a group of off-duty Spring Hill security guards, the MTSU student said.

"As we start turning around, I feel somebody, you know, grabbed me," said the student. "Then, all I remember is I'm on the ground, you know, and I've got, like, three people piled on top of me. Luckily, we had cameras rolling. But basically I got tackled from behind while I was trying to leave."

He was given a citation for aggravated trespassing for refusing to leave an event and wearing a mask for intimidation.

The man said it was the three off-duty security guards who assaulted him on public property, 400 yards from church property on the other side of the street.

"If you just watch the video, I think it's pretty clear-cut," he said. "We just basically turned around and then they tackled me. They didn't give me (any) chance to leave on my own."

The Church of Scientology said it told security these were dangerous people and to do what they needed to do.

"This group has made threats against us. They made bomb threats and death threats, so we had to take it seriously, so we hired some professional security that day," said Brian Fesler, a Church of Scientology representative. "We just trusted what, you know, trusted their judgment."

The assistant police chief of the Spring Hill Police Department, Jon Roberts, said from the video it looked like to him that the protestors were looking for trouble. Roberts said he feels that the officers did not do anything wrong, and the home video does not tell the whole story.

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