Activist or troublemaker? Two years later, Nydia Tisdale still being told to shut off video camera

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CUMMING, Ga. — Nydia Tisdale set up her camera April 17, 2012, at the Cumming City Council chambers only to be told by longtime Mayor H. Ford Gravitt she could no longer videotape the city’s meeting.

Tisdale sued the mayor and city for infringing on the state’s open meetings law and her rights as a citizen.

While the federal and state lawsuits are still entangled in the courts, the camera-wielding activist continues to be booted from meetings.

The latest was Wednesday, April 16, nearly two years to the day after her initial encounter in Cumming.

This time, Tisdale was told to shut off her camera at an event held by the Republican Women of Forsyth County.

Peggy Green, secretary for the Republican Women of Forsyth County, said she didn’t want to have Tisdale record the event because she’s a “troublemaker.” The Forsyth Herald and Forsyth County News were represented at this event.

“We did not want the controversy,” Green said. “I don’t think she has the credentials of a journalist.”

The luncheon event was at Norman’s Landing restaurant in Cumming, and featured speakers included Forsyth County District 3 Commission candidate David Hole and solicitor’s general candidate Susan Zereini.

A number of other candidates also showed up and were given a few minutes to introduce themselves, including school board candidates Amanda Nixon and Mark Weiss; District 3 County Commissioner Todd Levent; state Senate candidates Sen. Jack Murphy, Lauren McDonald III; and Georgia House District 24 candidate Sheri Gilligan and District 26 Rep. Geoff Duncan.

Tisdale is a blogger for AboutForsyth.com, where she accepts donations for her work videotaping meetings throughout the community. She has dubbed her work “Nydeos.”

“I consider myself part of the press,” Tisdale said after the event. “Non-traditional press.”

Tisdale, a resident of Roswell, got involved in Forsyth County in 2009 when she was then a property manager for a 90-acre tract off Old Atlanta Road. She and others were adamantly opposed to a landfill development off Ronald Reagan Boulevard.

Ever since, Tisdale has continued to be active in politics both in Forsyth and Fulton counties.

The latest incident, according to Tisdale, was “unnecessary.”

Green was captured on camera saying “You’re not welcomed here.”

Tisdale said. “It was very rude and disrespectful.”

Tisdale said she had helped to promote the event on several Facebook private groups, and many in attendance later said they were there because they heard about the event from her.

“I am not going to be idle; I will take some action,” Tisdale said.

On April 17, Tisdale filed an incident report with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office. When asked why she took so long to file the report, she claimed “she was waiting on an apology from Ms. Green.”

Although no warrants were issued, the case remains active with the sheriff’s office.

Green said even if the event was marked as open to the public, they have the right to ask people to leave. In the past, the group has asked unwanted guests to leave without incident, she said. She recalled a recent meeting where Democrats, who showed up to film candidates for U.S. Senate, were asked to leave.

“I wasn’t aware that Nydia was coming,” Green said. “We just didn’t need the distraction. And of course, she made a big to-do about it.

“It was definitely not a necessary incident and I for sure wanted a peaceful resolution,” Green said. “It is my fervent hope and desire that this event not be blown out of proportion and made into something more than it was. Actually, it was for that exact reason that we did not want Nydia to be there.”

This latest incident marks the third time in the past two years that Tisdale has been told not to video record a meeting.

In February, during a Roswell Saturday public meeting on the Unified Development Code, she was told to turn her camera off after some members of the City Council left, losing a quorum (the minimum number of councilmembers present to make it a majority and thus fall under public meeting statutes).

Tisdale says Roswell City Manager Kay Love told her to turn her camera off because it was “now a staff meeting, not an open meeting.”

“That’s another instance where the city manager for the city of Roswell asked me to turn my camera off,” Tisdale said. “I was there all day for six hours and you’re not going to let me film the ending of it?”

Tisdale likes to film everything, and she says she enjoys staying until the end.

“I watch movies until the end of the credits. It drives my husband crazy,” she said.

Tisdale supporters have come to her defense online. Many say they get an unfiltered look from her videos.

“That’s a shame,” said Mo O’Neill Delhey, a South Forsyth resident. “I would have liked to have seen the Nydeo.

“I have never seen David Hole, nor heard him speak or heard his voice,” she said. “I do live in District 3, so I will be casting a vote. I loved my Mystery Date game growing up, but it’s not that appealing in an election.”