Mayor apologizes to photographer for arrest at football game
TENNESSEE–The Mayor of Birmingham apologized to Knoxville News Sentinel photographer Byron Small in late June to settle a lawsuit stemming from Small’s arrest while covering a football game in the city in October 1995.
Small, who is black and was the only reporter arrested at the game, said he believes the arrest was racially motivated.
As part of the settlement, the mayor had to publicly apologize, clear Small’s police record, pay Small $5,000 in damages, and promise that an internal investigation of the police department will be performed, according to Small.
Small, who was wearing a 4-inch-wide orange media pass on one arm, said he was taking pictures of police who were becoming abusive with celebrating fans who had entered the field after the game. When police told him he had to leave, Small walked away and was halfway across the field when one police officer shouted to another to arrest Small, he said.
Police detained Small at the stadium for an hour and a half, and then brought him to the station, where they charged him with disorderly conduct and jailed him for four hours. Small posted bail and left.
Small said that he and his newspaper initially sought an apology from the city after the event but that officials did not want to cooperate. Small said he filed the civil rights lawsuit to force officials to address his arrest.