Republican Tennessee House Speaker's office tried to frame an activist who stood up to him: report
Tennessee Speaker of the House Glen Casada, who represents Williamson County, addresses part of the group of 11 MTSU interns working during the current legislative session at the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville Tuesday, March 12, at an MTSU and Nissan USA-sponsored luncheon. Casada thanked the students for their work. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt) — at Tennessee State Capitol.

Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada and his office may have tried to frame an activist who challenged a Republican lawmaker during the legislative session, and now a district attorney is asking for an investigation.

According to a cursory investigation by NewsChannel 5 in Nashville, the Speaker's chief of staff may have lied about a student simply to remove access.

"This was an extreme form of retaliation where you are willing to lie to take away somebody's freedom," Justin Jones, a Vanderbilt divinity student activist targeted told NewsChannel 5.

Casada has been the target of protests during the legislative session, both for his opposition to voting rights protections and his resistance to removing the statue of a Confederal general from the state Capitol.

"This was a mean group," Jones said. "You see a sort of drunkenness with power. There is an extremism that's happening."

Former House Speaker Beth Harwell was unafraid to meet with the students in the past and hear their concerns, but Casada has refused. As a result, the protests from students escalated. A cup was thrown into the Speaker's elevator in late February and that's when Jones was arrested for assault. If Jones promised to have no contact with Casada he could be released with no charges.

"I've obeyed it," Jones promised. "This many months later, I have not had any contact with Casada or have not been at the Capitol. So I followed the no-contact order."

But in early March, Nashville District Attorney General Glenn Funk filed a motion to revoke Jones' bail, saying Jones had sent a threatening email to Casada's chief of staff in which he copied the House Speaker. The email violated his bond.

"It was a shock because it was my freedom," Jones said. "If this would have went (sic) through to revoke my bond, I would be in jail right now until my court date. So this is not something I take lightly."

Jones later learned that the DA's motion was based on a photo of an email with the date March 1 on it. That was one day after the no-contact order. The original email was actually sent February 25, prior to his arrest.

The District Attorney ultimately admitted that they got the information from the Speaker's chief of staff and didn't confirm whether the evidence was factual.

"You have some of the most powerful people in this state who are willing to file a false report and to file a false paperwork and to manipulate paperwork to take your freedom away," Jones said. "That's something that's scary."

Casada is claiming he knows nothing about the incident and his chief of staff is refusing to answer any questions.

This isn't the first time the chief of staff has lied about interactions with Jones. At one point he claimed the reason he wouldn't agree to a meeting with Jones and student activists because Jones misspelled the word "capitol" in his email address and as such he didn't get the email.

To make matters worse, the investigation into the office has uncovered a seedy underbelly of racist exchanges calling Black people idiots.

"It was done to put me in jail," Jones said, "which is scary that somebody in such a public office - an office that swears to uphold the state constitution, an office that is in charge of a $38 billion budget - is doing something like this. I mean, it's shameful."

Read the full report at NewsChannel5.

You can read the evidence discovered below:

Even after the information discovered and released the Speaker and his chief of staff refuse to comment.