By Press Reporter: Shannon Taylor
Dresden citizen April Lieberman took to Facebook to express her concern after she voiced opinions about Dresden mayor Jeff Washburn. She posted, “After I publicly challenged Mayor Washburn’s ongoing violations of constitutional rights, city police staked out my house and wires were pulled from my car battery and trailer.”
Dresden Police Chief Christopher Crocker responded stating, “April this is Chief Christopher Crocker with the Dresden Police Department. I’m not a fan of false accusations being made against my police department which does an outstanding job. The officer in that picture was simply watching the stop sign for traffic violations. If you have an issue with the Dresden Police Department or one of my officers, I would invite you to come speak with me at the civic center from 7-5, Tuesday-Friday, thanks.”
Lieberman stated, “Chief Crocker, I didn’t make an accusation. I recounted a series of events. I challenged the mayor publicly, shortly thereafter a police cruiser parks itself across from my house for about an hour. I’ve lived here six years and never have I seen police hanging out there. Then Sunday night I find that the wires have been pulled out of my battery and trailer. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to lock the car. So, someone simply popped the hood and pulled them. I’m 52 years old. Never has my car been tampered with before this weekend. This is a series of events, not a false accusation. I am disappointed that you are not taking my concerns and welfare seriously. You are here to protect this community, of which I am a part. If anything, you should be contacting me to file a report, not publicly castigating a citizen from the mayor’s “enemies list” on Facebook.
At the June city board meeting when Crocker gave his report, Anderson asked him,” I got an email this week from a citizen that was concerned that our police department was used in intimidating ways-parking a patrol car at their house for a while and then was alleged that they had been following a reporter around-do you want to speak to that?”
Crocker claimed to know nothing of the reporter incident and said the other incident was on Facebook and that he responded to it on there. “I know the picture that was placed on there was one of our officers and they were actually trying to serve a arrest warrant on a gentlemen up the street.” Crocker said that’s why the officer was parked there. Crocker said the other issue on Facebook, “I don’t really even want to speak of it because it makes no sense and it would be a waste of my time to even speak on that, I mean to think that an officer would raise the hood and cut a wire or something-that’s just unheard of. We have more important things going on in the city besides tracking people down or harassing people.”
Washburn chimed in saying, “I can speak to that I have not spoken with the police chief or any other police officer and asked them to track people or harass anybody.”
Anderson said, “We’re not saying you did.”
Washburn said, “No, you didn’t and I appreciate that. The person who did the post said that I did and it’s a complete lie.”
April Lieberman then spoke up and said, “The person who put the post on did not say you did that. The person said that she challenged your unconstitutional behavior…”
Washburn interrupted her stating that she was “out of line.”
Lieberman said, “I’ve just been called a liar by the mayor of my town and I’d like the board to give me the opportunity to respond.”
Dilday said, “You skipped input from citizens.”
Washburn said, “Yeah, I did. She’ll have a chance to respond in a minute. As will I.”
When it was time for input from citizens Lieberman tried to state her case but was constantly interrupted by Washburn who would not let her speak.
Lieberman stated, “What I have done is report to The Federal Bureau of Investigation your continued and less known repeated efforts to deny citizens of this community their freedom of speech and First Amendment rights.” Lieberman stated that what he did was a violation people’s constitutional rights.
Washburn stated, “You don’t even have a clue what the violation is even of Miss Lieberman. I can use my personal website to do whatever…”
Lieberman interjected, “I thought this was citizen’s input! Not the mayors at this moment. I have the floor, Sir.”
Washburn kept trying to interrupt her and Lieberman stated two more times that she had the floor, raising her voice and sitting up straighter and more forward in her seat as she said it as Washburn tried to talk over her.
Washburn said, “What I do with my personal Facebook page is my business.”
Lieberman said, “tell that to Donald Trump. He was not allowed to block people on Twitter. You’re conducting city business on personal accounts.” Lieberman went on to say that blocking people from accessing the city’s information and tornado recovery information was illegal to which Washburn responded that it wasn’t. Lieberman then told him to go back to law school. “I’ve been to law school and you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Anderson had to interrupt the exchange by telling them to allow one to speak and the other to respond.
Washburn stated, “This is something that shouldn’t even be before this board.”
Anderson stated, “It’s something that a citizen wants to report, so let her talk. She gets three minutes uninterrupted.”
Washburn said, “Then you have about a minute left.”
Lieberman said, “You are not allowed to block citizens who happen to be on your enemies list, which you admitted that you have, and have blocked people from the city pages. You continue to do that on your personal accounts after the board had lifted the city account. That is illegal. I have reported it to the ACLU and the FBI and I’m going to report it tomorrow to the State Attorney General and the Tennessee Bar Association because you took an oath, Sir. Not just to serving this office, but when you received your law degree. You took an oath to uphold the constitution of the United States and the State of Tennessee. You are violating that and I will speak out of I see fit when you are violating people’s rights.”
Washburn said, “Are you done? I assume you are. I can tell you that The Weakley Times is my personal news outlet on Facebook and I do not have to allow you to come on there and bash me and tell false information. I do not have to allow you to come on there on a personal webpage who has nothing to do with the mayor of Dresden. I get out and I go around and I take pictures of businesses, I report things that are going on, I report the news of the city just like the Weakley County Press and the Dresden Enterprise. There’s not one dab of difference between the three of us, so I am a independent reporter reporting and whether you like it or not I’m going to continue to do that and I don’t care if the ACLU comes in here or the FBI, TBI, the comptroller office or the Tennessee Bar Association. They’re going to tell you the same thing: that you’re full of crap and you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.”
Lieberman said, “The federal courts have ruled otherwise. Do your research, Sir.”
Washburn said, “Well, this is not mayor Jeff Washburn’s page-this is a page of which I report all types of news including beauty reviews and football games and basketball games and everything else.”
Lieberman said, “You conduct city business through your personal account.”
Washburn stated that he did not and that Liberman did not “have a clue.”
Lieberman said, “You, Sir, have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Washburn spoke over her stating, “Next!”
After Lieberman returned home that evening she responded to Crocker on Facebook stating, “Chief Crocker, you addressed me. We have never met. I didn’t even know your name before your comment. Yet in the city board meeting t, you stood up and mockingly referred to what happened to me this weekend as “nonsense.” Should I expect then to have my concerns fairly addressed by your or your department? You have done nothing to reassure me. I did file a report Sunday with the appropriate law enforcement agency, which in this case is the FBI. I also filed a complaint with the ACLU. Any other efforts to intimidate me will be similarly posted on Facebook and Instagram as well.
Lieberman spoke with the Press after the board meeting and stated that, “my only posts on Mayor Washburn’s personal pages questioned, rather, why he was blocking his critics. This is unconstitutional since he has been disseminating City information and tornado recovery resources through his personal pages. For that I was blocked with my comment deleted. It is disturbing that our mayor, a practicing attorney, would continue to knowingly violate citizens’ First Amendment rights. He acts as if he is above the law. If the Mayor cannot handle citizen input and/or criticism, he’s in the wrong line of business. He has abused the power and trust placed in him by the citizens of Dresden and does not belong in public office We need to focus on helping homeowners and businesses rebuild and attracting new industry to our City. Our recovery from the tornado has been hampered by this man’s utter incompetence and abuses of power. His erratic behavior, verbal abuse of constituents and City employees, mismanagement of funds, and willful denial of people’s constitutional rights are an embarrassment our city can hopefully put in the rear-view mirror soon.”
Washburn responded to Chanel 6 news that of the sixteen accounts he blocked that he believed that were all ran by the same two people, but the Press had actually spoken to many of the people on the block list previously, confirming that many of them were blocked simply for asking questions. Washburn stated that he has no plans to be censured or to resign from his position of mayor, even at the bequest of the majority of his board of alderman.