Natchez protest leads to arrest

June 6, 2013 9:38:32 AM

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NATCHEZ -- Mississippi authorities say a Michigan woman was shocked with a stun gun during a protest in Natchez because she resisted arrest. 

 

The Natchez Democrat reports that members of the National Action Network were protesting Monday on behalf of a woman who says her treatment in the Adams County Jail in 2003 led to her having a miscarriage. 

 

Sheriff Chuck Mayfield says a deputy used the stun gun on 55-year-old Debra Pernell-Simmons of Farmington Hills, Mich., because she wouldn't comply with officers' orders. 

 

Mayfield says the group wouldn't get off a sidewalk and that it's illegal to interfere with access to public buildings or property. The sheriff says the group was given a copy of Mississippi law. 

 

"They were warned about getting off the sidewalk multiple times by deputies," Mayfield said. "One of the protestors confronted the deputies screaming on a bullhorn, and deputies arrested her." 

 

Walter Shinn, a Columbus resident and member of the group, says the dozen people had a permit to protest. 

 

"I've never seen that much police brutality against a woman who wasn't doing anything wrong," Shinn said. 

 

Shinn said the group's protest stemmed from an incident involving Natchez resident Glennese Scott. 

 

"We came down here for her, but we're staying for Mrs. Simmons," Shinn said. "NAN members stand by NAN members." 

 

Scott said she applied for the permit, which stated the group could rally and protest on Market Street. 

 

The group originally started their protest in front of City Hall on Pearl Street, but was told they couldn't be there by Natchez Mayor Butch Brown, Shinn said. 

 

Members of the group walked down Market Street and were eventually stopped by deputies near the entrance to the courthouse. 

 

"When we made it there, they had the whole sheriff's department there and said we would go to jail if we did it in front of the courthouse," Scott said. "We're going to organize another protest, because I won't give up."