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Second suit filed over city matter
Woman contends rights violated
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Forsyth County News

Following through on her previously announced plans, a Roswell woman has filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against Cumming’s mayor, police chief and deputy chief.

The suit stems from an incident during the April meeting of the Cumming City Council when Mayor H. Ford Gravitt ordered the woman, Nydia Tisdale, and her video camera removed from the meeting.

Tisdale and her camera were escorted out by Police Chief Casey Tatum and Deputy Police Chief Walter Cook for a brief period. She was also reportedly told that video recording was not permitted, and later that she couldn’t record the meeting on a still camera.

Dana Miles, attorney for the mayor and city, said it is his law firm’s longstanding policy to not comment on ongoing litigation.

“We will file an answer in response of pleadings at the appropriate time,” he said.

Gravitt, Tatum and Cook could not be reached for comment.

Tisdale’s attorney, Gerry Weber, filed the suit Wednesday morning in U.S. District Court in Gainesville.

Weber said the suit is seeking damages in two different areas: Civil penalties under the Georgia open meetings law and violations of Tisdale’s constitutional rights as she was allegedly “physically grabbed.”

Weber said the suit also seeks an injunction to “ensure that she and other people are able to attend the meetings and to film the meetings.”

The suit comes on the heels of Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens’ decision to sue Gravitt for violating the Open Meetings Act.

Filed last week, that suit asks Forsyth County Superior Court to impose a $1,000 fine for the first violation and $2,500 each for the second and third.

It also asks the court to award attorney’s fees and other litigation.

Wednesday, Tisdale said she had intended to file a civil suit since the incident occurred but waited for proper legal advice.

“It wasn’t whether or not I would file,” she said. “It was that I needed to find out on what basis I could file.

“I’m hoping the city will be held accountable, that it will admit what it did was wrong and … that fault will be determined by the court and that the city will have to pay for that, basically reimburse the attorneys’ fees because they weren’t willing to admit fault.”