Local activist, Tanesha Hudson, has settled a First Amendment action against Charlottesville City.
During a May 19 online episode of Cville 360—a City-produced public affairs program hosted by City Communications Director, Brian Wheeler—Ms. Hudson was prohibited by Wheeler from speaking or addressing the featured guest, City Councilor, Heather Hill.
An undated press release from Hudson’s attorney describes the aftermath:
Tanesha Hudson was shocked: “It was disgusting. I couldn’t believe they did this to me. This is America and I’m supposed to have the right to speak freely to criticize both the government and the officials that we elected to represent us.”
Hudson filed a grievance with the City immediately after the meeting. She then retained Daniel P. Watkins, an attorney at the law firm Clare Locke LLP, whose practice focuses primarily on plaintiff-side defamation. “This is one of the most clear-cut cases of viewpoint discrimination that I have ever seen, full stop. The First Amendment prohibits government actors from punishing people for expressing views they might disagree with, which is precisely what happened here.”
The release continues:
Watkins sent a letter to the city, demanding a formal apology and $400,000. The parties reached an agreement a short time later and the city of Charlottesville issued the following apology:
The City of Charlottesville, and specifically Charlottesville Communications Director, Brian Wheeler, would like to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to Ms. Hudson for Brian Wheeler’s refusing to call on her and allowing her to participate during the May 19, 2020 forum.
Both Wheeler and Watkins declined to release additional terms of the settlement, but attorney Watkins was “more than satisfied” with the outcome.
Like Joe Draego before her, who also “settled” with the City over a speech-related lawsuit, Hudson was a beneficiary of the City’s institutional arrogance and seeming incapability to learn from prior mistakes.
Curiously, the May 19 Cville 360 episode has been removed from the City’s hosting service. Relevant portions of Wheeler’s refusal and admonishment of Hudson are featured in this exclusive Schilling Show special report.