On Tuesday night, Mayor Brian Treece brought up Columbia School Board member Jonathan Sessions’ arrest at last year’s Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival, saying he didn’t want a repeat episode of any kind this year.
During last year’s festival, Sessions rode his bike down a closed section of Walnut Street on the morning of Sept. 29 and failed to stop when a police officer ordered him to. Sessions spoke to an officer around 10 a.m., but was not ticketed until that evening, when five police officers approached him around 8 p.m.
The officers formed a semicircle and questioned him, while one issued him a ticket for refusing to comply with a lawful order by a police officer. The Missourian obtained body camera footage of the arrest from the Columbia Police Department.
Sessions was released after signing the ticket. He was neither handcuffed nor taken to the police station.
Treece’s comments came during a discussion regarding the city’s agreement with Thumper Entertainment for this year’s event. Treece raised the matter, while Thumper co-owner Tracy Lane talked about volunteers for this year’s festival and how they will work with the police and fire departments.
Although Treece didn’t call out Sessions by name, he did mention that a volunteer — a school board member — had been arrested last year.
“Here’s my concern: Five police officers and command staff had to deal with that instead of watching the crowd, and that puts the crowd at risk,” Treece said.
Lane told the mayor that Sessions wasn’t exactly a volunteer but was delivering supplies to the festival. She said he would not be involved this year.
Contacted about the mayor’s remarks Thursday, Sessions was surprised a year-old incident was being rehashed.
“I think he’s trying to prove a point,” Sessions said. “I don’t know what that point is.”
Sessions criticized the mayor during his reelection campaign earlier this year because Treece had lobbied against a bill in Jefferson City that would have allowed cities and school districts to enter transportation contracts. Sessions was asked Thursday whether he thought Treece’s remarks Tuesday were politically motivated.
“With our mayor, everything seems to be political,” Sessions said.
Sessions said he didn’t stop for the police last year because of general confusion surrounding the situation. He said he was originally given the OK to ride his bike down Walnut Street.
Sessions placed no importance on the fact that five cops were there. He compared it to traffic stops, where two officers are often present.
Sessions filed a written guilty plea and paid a $200 fine plus $24.50 in court costs in May, according to Municipal Court records. He said he has moved on from the incident.