Chris Nakamoto is a true professional journalist, giving a deadpanned story lede to his videographer as he was being perp-walked by a burly cop for uncovering small town government corruption.
He’d just uncovered an un-legislated pay raise costing each resident in small town White Castle, Lousiana – each man, woman and child – stuck paying an additional $11 per year in tribute to the elected offical.
Louisiana cops arrested the tele-journalist for asking tough questions about the Mayor’s salary, now the whole world will find out as his story goes viral in the video you can see below.
An ABC television station’s lead investigator Chris Nakamoto, with WBRZ news in Baton Rouge was arrested in White Castle, Louisiana this past week.
Nakamoto was asking difficult questions of White Castle town clerk, Monica Hamilton, regarding discrepancies involving the Mayor Gerald Jermarr Williams’s salary.
Hamilton told Nakamoto that she didn’t want to be on-camera, but Nakamoto refused to turn the camera off.
Last week, a Judge ordered the town to produce the records, but instead they preferred to finish the investigator’s lawsuit with a badge, at the barrel of a gun, in open defiance of the court order.
Hamilton accused Nakamoto of chasing her to a non-public area after she ran from him to avoid his questions.
Tiny White Castle is a small town nestled on the banks of the Mississippi River with fewer than 2000 residents, which is paying its Mayor an additional $22,000 a year, without any apparent vote or legislation to let citizens or their representatives decide the matter.
However, corruption is not limited to large urban cities in Louisiana or America in general, it thrives unchecked in secrecy when government agencies fail to be transparent.
Nakamoto had uncovered a 20% increase in pay for Mayor Williams through a successful public records request.
Later, Nakamoto was unable to find town minutes in which the Mayor’s pay increase would have been discussed, the missing public record raised a red flag, leading the journalist to investigate exactly who gave the politician a raise.
Nakamoto was charged with “Remaining after being forbidden” after he was told by White Castle police officers to leave and refusing as you can see below.
Florida’s St. Johns County School Board is trying the same tactic with PINAC reporter Jeff Gray, when they ultimately arrested him for making public records requests at the district, after his north Florida School Board filed a SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) claim in court for his school bus safety investigations.
Using the police and bogus application of trespassing or other ordinances against reporters violates the First Amendment when restricting the free press’ right to entry into traditional expressive fora, like public buildings and meetings.
Public officials too often utilize this brutal form of censorship as a shield where they can hide misdeeds, and a sword by which they can intimidate, hurt or imprison their enemies.
In another recent incident, an Arizona Sheriff denied a reporter access to a public meeting held by Sheriff Paul Babeu.
In that video other reporters were seen entering the building as he was being told he was being prevented from attending the public meeting. ABC15’s Dave Biscobing was told he was being refused access because he was biased.
When government agencies don’t want to face tough questions, they scurry away to call police to hide from their uncovered corruption. They hide like rats in the dark when light is shown.
Chris Nakamoto confronted the Mayor Gerald Jermarr Williams directly and on-camera asking him how he obtained a raise, but the politician declined to answer his repeated questions, just saying, “Let’s wait until the case is over.”
It takes an extraordinary amount of courage to confront and report on local corruption head-on, knowing that small town public officials could exercise extraordinary authority to violate civil rights, just like you see below where White Castle’s police trampled all over the 1st Amendment.
And a court order.
And in this case, Nakamoto deserves a medal for trying to protect taxpayers, while the Mayor Gerald Jermarr Williams and cohorts should have been arrested for grand theft, fraud and embezzlement.