CUMMING, Ga. — Nydia Tisdale had been recording meetings in Forsyth County government for months before she clashed with the city of Cumming mayor.
On April 17, Tisdale and her camera were escorted out of Cumming City Hall after Mayor H. Ford Gravitt told Cumming Police Chief Casey Tatum to stop Tisdale from recording their regular meeting.
The Georgia Attorney General’s Office and Tisdale have pending lawsuits against the city over the incident.
On May 7, Tisdale was back at Cumming City Hall, with the state Sunshine Law and media backing her. Tisdale and her camera in tow have attended most meetings since the incident with Gravitt.
For the city’s part, they say Tisdale, of Roswell, was causing a safety hazard because she put her tripod in the middle of the aisle.
“We don’t allow filming inside of the city hall,” Gravitt said in April. “Unless there’s a specific reason.”
The incident garnered national attention and the whole thing was captured on a YouTube video.
Tisdale is a blogger for the often fiery AboutForsyth.com.
According to Georgia House Bill 397, ironically signed by Gov. Nathan Deal on April 17, “The public at all times shall be afforded access to meetings declared open to the public. Visual and sound recording during open meetings shall be permitted.”
The law had always allowed for the public to record meetings, but the bill simply solidified these rights.
The city immediately adopted rules that dictate where cameras with tripods can be set up as not to cause a safety issue.
In November, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners also adopted rules for recording public meetings. They have set aside a section specifically for cameras with tripods to record the meetings undisturbed.
“I’m exercising my right as a citizen to record an open and public meeting,” Tisdale has said.