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First of all I need to say this:  Matt, I am glad you are out.... thanks to Bonnie, Tom, Chris, UMD and others...  It has been stressful for all of us.

Arrested...  Now Free... The Real Story as written by Matt.

I received this story via email from Matt... He wants to tell you the REAL STORY.....

These are his words... I have not edited.... 



How Matt Landon was arrested by TVA police while driving a blind grandmother home

So here is the 1st complete first hand update that has been published anywhere and yall get to read it first.  So Thursday March 5, 2009 began as most of my days in 2009 had started.  I sent out a press release about the citizen's press conference and set up a media messaging training with local residents who wanted to speak at the press conference.  The training was a success.  We re launched our air monitoring program before heading off to Roane State.  The Tennessee Coal Ash Survivors Network held a citizen's press conference where Eva Hewitt, Charlotte Phillips, and Rick Cantrell all spoke. All of the speakers did a very good job and UMD is very proud of their bravery and strength.  



The TDEC/ TN Department of Health meeting that followed the press conference was VERY interesting.  It was funny to hear  Quincy Stykes of TDEC speak about how TDEC believed all of the coal ash particles were between PM 10- PM 100 or 10 microns to 100 microns large.  I had to keep from laughing as I held evidence of much smaller particle sizes in my hand from coal ash samples that United Mountain Defense had gathered from the TVA disaster site.

The community question and answer session was the most stifled one to date.  All of the questions had to be written on a piece of paper and turned into Mayor Beets who then got to choose which questions were asked.  Many of the questions he chose had either been covered partially during the presentations or could not be answered specifically by anyone on site because TVA was not present.  At the close of the 30 minute question and answer session I moved to the front of the room and announced the independent findings for the much smaller coal ash particle size and presented scientific documentation of the findings, video of trucks tracking coal fly ash onto public roads, and formal 118 A complaints for violations of the Clean Water Act to all of the government officials present.  One of the complaints dealt with Bob Alexander of TDEC driving offsite with coal fly ash on his vehicle on 2-24-09 with the accompanying video of the event.  Copies of this video were also distributed to the media. Did anyone see it on the news?  Me neither.... 

After the hearing I drove Eva Hewitt back to her home.  Eva is blind in one eye.  She has no car or driver's license and she is raising her 16 year old granddaughter by herself.  Eva has been very willing to accept UMD's offers to take her and her granddaughter to the doctor, hospital, grocery store, and to community meetings so that she doesn't have to walk alongside the Swan Pond Rd.  Eva has developed a deep lung cough, headaches, and skin rashes as she walks along the road kicking up coal ash dust that continually falls from the vehicles leaving the disaster site.

The only help TVA has offered Eva to date was to put herself, her granddaughter  and her  dogs up in a hotel for the first night of the disaster. Eva can't get a lung doctor to see her for her cough.  Her personal physician has tried to set up two different appointments with doctors in Oak Ridge and Harriman.  Both of these doctor's stated they could not see Eva and that she would have to go to a TVA lung doctor.  Eva was later told that if TVA did pay for her to go to a doctor she would have to sign a waiver stating that she could  not sue TVA.  I would advise against signing. 

So as I was driving down Swan Pond Rd I called  Chris Irwin to make sure that he was on the phone as I approached the road block.  This has become my standard operating procedure whenever dealing with the TVA police force since Dec 25, 2008 when TVA began increasing their resistance to UMD's activates.  I have video taped every interaction that I have had with the TVA and local police and these videos show that I have been completely compliant with their orders. 
So as I approached the TVA roadblock on Swan Pond Rd I did not see any officer at the post.  As I have many times before I slowed down to a slow rate.  Neither Eva nor I saw any officer at the post.  There was a TVA police vehicle parked at the post with no officer outside.  I have traveled through these police check points numerous times when there were no officers at the post without any problems. I have rolled through the check points without stopping numerous times without a second glance from the TVA officers.   So I proceeded to drive through the checkpoint at a slow rate.  I continued on the public road to Eva's house.  As we pulled up in Eva's house and began to get out of the vehicle there were two TVA Police cars that drove up and parked behind us. 
At this point the TVA officer began a line of questioning and action that is clearly recorded on the following YouTube Video
My red tag TVA pass was confiscated on 2-24-09 however at the time of arrest I had two letters from different Swan Pond Residents stating that I had their permission to visit their homes at any time.  I also had a Swan Pond Resident in the vehicle with me at the time of arrest and as I slowly drove past the checkpoint.  One of these residents called the TVA police on 2-24-09 to request that I have my pass reinstated.   

I do want to say that Thursday and Friday I was able to make some phone calls to both Bonnie and Chris who were working on editing the video, writing email updates and creating press releases about the accidental arrest event.  During these rushed communications there was some mis communication that occurred such as two grandmothers, the date on the YouTube video and a few other discrepancies, though the video speaks for itself.  

There have been some questions about if I was trying to get arrested and I would like to put those questions to rest once and for all.  I am a certified teacher.  I have spent a lot of time and money to get this teaching certificate and would not intentionally do anything to endanger my chances of getting a teaching job and I feel that an arrest record can be very damaging to getting professional jobs such as teaching.  I am currently working as a part time teacher and am fearful of losing my job over this accidental arrest.  I have worked very hard to make sure that I did not get arrested during my time of doing work at TVA's coal ash disaster.  Really and truly if I was trying to get arrested I would have done so A LONG time ago and not over the issue of driving Eva home which did not prove any of the points that United Mountain Defense has been trying to bring up, that people are getting sick in the community since the coal ash disaster and they have doctor's evacuation notices that TVA is not acknowledging.  

This arrest was not planned.  There was no plan for posting a bond, bail, or paying any fines.  There was no jail support team, media team, media message, or any other items that would show that this arrest was premeditated.  There was no plan for getting the borrowed vehicle that I was driving back to its owner.  There was no plan for who would be doing the needed air monitoring on Friday before next week’s rain.  There was no plan to go to jail because if there was I would have wore white socks and white undergarments as that is one of the jail's rules.  Who knew?
I have NEVER been to jail before in my life.  I don't intend to go back to jail for this or any other issue if at all possible.  I did not plan to go to jail or get arrested.   
So as I was escorted to the Roane County Jail for processing I was informed by the TVA officer that he was "protecting the residents" of the Swan Pond Community from "people like me."  When I questioned him further about this he stated that he meant onlookers and sight seers and people taking video while disrupting vehicle traffic and impeding the cleanup of the disaster site. 
Well if TVA has any video proof of me personally disrupting vehicle traffic or impeding the cleanup of the disaster site I would like to see it, please post it to YouTube; show the world exactly what I am doing, PLEASE.    When I stated," why would the residents need to be protected from someone who is delivering water, taking people to the grocery store, hospital, doctor, not trespassing, monitoring air/ water/ coal ash, helping facilitate trainings and organize with the local community, and sit at the Harriman American Legion building for more than 20 hours helping with heavy metal exposure testing," he could not answer.  Exactly, silence, that will be their only answer. 
So my next line of questioning dealt with "under whose authority the road continued to be closed after there were promises from TVA that all of the roadblocks would be removed."  I asked who exactly had the authority to close a public roadway.  The answer that I got was that the Federal government, State government, and Roane County all had agreed to allow the road to be closed.  When I asked further for which state agency was responsible for such a closure the TVA officer stated that it was actually only Roane County that had issued the closure.  When I asked which department or person in the Roane County government had granted the closure permission the answer was, " I am through talking with you," from the TVA officer.  Grin and bear it, grin and bear it. 
So jail was not a blast.  I arrived at Thursday March 5, 2009 at 9:30PM there abouts.  I was processed and was put into the TN VOL Orange clothing of the general population inmates.  I entered a holding cell with two other inmates that had been inside since Feb 14 and Feb 25 respectively.  I slept on the floor fortunately with a thin mattress.  Even though my first questions to everyone in charge at the jail from the moment I entered was," I want to call my attorney on the phone"  I was not granted my phone call until 1AM at which point I learned of my charges.  I was charged with trespassing in a vehicle, not obeying a traffic control device, and entering a restricted area.  My court date is March 23, 2009 at 9 AM.  There are two conditions of the bond order. 

1) I am not allowed on TVA property at the Kingston Steam Plant


2) That I will not interfere with the construction or recovery effort concerning the ash spill at the TVA Steam Plant.


I am glad that TVA wrote down the two terms because to date I have not violated them anyway and if TVA has any video of my violating these two clauses I would like to see it on YouTube for the whole world to see.

I did not enter a plea.        
By this time Bonnie had traveled to Eva's house and picked up her truck and found the video tapes of me being arrested.  This video was rushed back to Knoxville, TN where our UMD volunteers created this  video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2ltonE1IdM and posted it at Friday March 6, 2009 at 3:30AM.  By this time I was sleeping like a baby in the brightly lit holding cell on the hard concrete floor.  At 5 AM I awoke to a tray of gravy, biscuits, and turkey sausage.  By 9:30AM I was dressed back into my clothing and had shackles put on my ankles and wrists.  I was informed that I would either post bond and be released or I would be transported to another jail because of overcrowding.   
I sat before the magistrate judge who posted my bond at $3,000.  She asked if I had any money to cover this bond or to bail out.  I told her I did not as I am a full time volunteer with United Mountain Defense and work as a part time teacher to pay the bills at the Volunteer House.  I asked to be released on OR (with the understanding that I am not a flight risk and will show up to my court date.)  She was not able to grant this request because I didn't live in Roane County.  Lunch was served in the jail while I was riding in the patrol car.  This is when I began to be transported to an undisclosed location.  I ended up at the Bradley County Jail in Cleveland, TN in another holding cell.  By 4PM Friday I was nearly processed and was then entered into the general population. 
Jail life is a different world.  1.5 million people in this country live in the jail system.  They live in small overcrowded cells with no windows to the outside world.  The cell that I was moved into had two inmates that had spent roughly 70 days in jail to date.  I pulled up a nice cold piece of concrete and laid down for a cat nap on my thin blue mattress. 
The guys in the jail were very curious about who I was and why I was there.  Mine was the story of the day as the guys were very curious about how I could have gotten arrested for driving a grandmother home.  I found that a large percentage of the inmates in Cleveland, TN had not even heard of TVA's Coal Ash Disaster.  They live less than 100 miles downstream and drink the water from the Tennessee River which is being impacted by the coal ash and they did not know that it had occurred.  Many of these guys watch the news and read the newspapers to keep up with the latest events but because of the slack media coverage didn't know much about the disaster or that it had even happened.   

This is sad.  I remember when the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Disaster happened in Alaska and I got sick of watching pictures of birds flopping in oil for the three or four months that I saw on the news and in the newspapers.  Why is this disaster different?  Because it is the coal industry.  

I was on the inside I heard from a reliable source that I may have been transported due to a rumored protest at the Roane County Jail.  I raised my eyebrow in question and didn't receive any confirmation that a protest had occurred.  AT NO POINT DID I OR HAVE I EVER CALLED FOR ANY PROTESTS IN ROANE COUNTY.  Neither I nor anyone from United Mountain Defense will ever call for any protest in Roane County.   
I got a good dinner and headed off to my floor spot in the overcrowded Bradley County Jail.  Basically I was moved from one overcrowded jail to the next overcrowded jail.  My bail was fundraised and by Saturday March 7, 2009 at 5am I was transported back to Roane County and gained my freedom once again.  Thanks to UMD volunteer Tom Swinford for staying up through the night and giving me a ride from Harriman to Knoxville.  Thanks to Bonnie Swinford for providing moral support on the phone and for fielding all of the media requests.  Thanks to Chris Irwin for putting the YouTube video up on the internet.  Thanks to all of the other volunteers, friends, and family that have offered support and stood by me through this accidental arrest.  Thank you to all of the residents of Roane County who were concerned about my health and safety.  Thanks to Rick Cantrell for coming to visit me at Roane County Jail even though I had been transferred.  Yall are great!!! 
Thanks, matt landon full time volunteer for United Mountain Defense

check out www.unitedmountaindefense.org


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So now his story is told.