James Ian Tyson wants the people of Charlotte to know: Im a local Charlottean, Im a farmer, Im a carpenter, Im a family member and a community member. I am not a terrorist.
The 27-year-old was arrested Sunday and charged with driving with a revoked license. He was jailed on a $10,000 cash bond.
The police officer who arrested him wanted Tyson to remain behind bars during the Democratic National Convention, according to a court document.
The officer informed the magistrate that Tyson was on a terrorist watch list.
Tyson told the Observer Tuesday he was shocked to learn that he was on a terrorist watch list.
They have no reason to have me on that list, Tyson said. I havent done anything remotely criminal involving politics.
No one knows how you get on this list ... or the accountability process or, most importantly, how they get off this list.
There were fewer than 400,000 people on the governments consolidated terrorist watch list in 2011.
The U.S. government does not reveal the names of people on the watch list, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
A 2009 audit, conducted by the U.S. Department of Justices Office of Inspector General, found a high error rate among the FBIs terrorist watch list.
North Carolina criminal records show Tyson was found guilty of fishing trout water in closed season in 2007 and fined $145. Last May, he pleaded guilty to driving while impaired. Tyson was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation and paid $293 in fines and court costs.
Police pulled Tyson over Sunday while he was driving to a protest.
Tyson said he spent roughly 36 hours in jail, about 24 of which he spent alone in small cell.
My jaw dropped, said Tyson of learning about the $10,000 cash bond.
Im thinking Oh my God. Theyre going to keep me in here for 50 days. Who has $10,000 cash?
Tyson was released from jail Monday night after a judge reduced his bond to $2,500. He had called a hotline set up by members of the Coalition to March on Wall Street South for legal help.
Tyson said he believes his arrest was intended to keep him from speaking out against climate change during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
It scares me, he said. Its not going to stop me from organizing.
Asked if he was going to demonstrate during the DNC, he replied: Not now.
I think theyre watching me and looking for a reason to arrest me, Tyson said. Im not afraid of police, but I dont want to be arrested again.
Tyson said he went to the Caribbean in June. He was teaching a sailing education program for teenagers.
When he returned to Charlotte Douglas International Airport in July, he said he was pulled aside and questioned for about 45 minutes.
They wanted to know why I was in the Caribbean, Tyson said.
Thats when I first thought I might be on some list. But I had no idea it might be some terrorist list.