Memphis activist set to testify in ACLU vs. City of Memphis Trial

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fergus Nolan was one of the first people to go public about a so-called 'black list' at city hall. The list included people who had to have special escorts in the building and who needed to be watched.

Nolan had been arrested in the Save the Greensward protests in 2016..

"I got on there a little later after I was arrested right here on the Greensward," Nolan said.

Now he says he is headed to court next week to testify in an ACLU federal lawsuit against the City of Memphis for keeping tabs on protesters  from the Greensward, the bridge protests and protests outside Graceland.

The city admits to monitoring activists who took part in demonstrations and infiltrating social media groups to get information.

But a judge has ruled what the city did was 'political intelligence' when it created a security list and even disseminated information about individuals.

The judge said it violated a 1978 agreement prohibiting law enforcement from engaging in activities that interfere with a person's First Amendment rights.

Nolan says the ruling speaks volumes.

"It's a guaranteed right. They have no right to record people simply exercising their first amendment right," said Nolan.

But the City of Memphis said in a statement, "The 40-year-old decree, which was drafted before the internet, security cameras and body cameras is woefully outdated. Applying it in today's technological world would severely hamper our ability to provide public safety."

The case will play out in court, but one activist who has been on the other end thinks there is reason for everyone to worry.

"The police is where the danger is coming from. They are the ones who exercised the violence, not the protestors," said Nolan.

City officials said in a statement they are confident the court will find no one's constitutional rights were violated.

The case is set to go to trial next week.