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Man arrested after causing disturbance over mask at Kroger in Dalton and refusing to ID himself

According to a Dalton Police Department incident report, on Wednesday, July 15th, 2020, at around 12:00 PM, MPO Hudson and Officer K. Johnson were dispatched to Kroger located at 1365 West Walnut Avenue in reference to a disturbance. Lt. Long and Officer Bethune also responded to assist. Once on the scene, Officer Johnson made contact with the caller and her children. There were several Kroger employees around the complainant and her children as well. They advised that the subject causing the disturbance was an older white male, wearing a red tank-top and a ball cap and a face mask. They said he had walked away from the group once police were called. Officer Hudson located the subject nearby; he made contact with the man and asked what had been going on. He said that he "Asked the lady and her kids to move out of his way in the aisle and she refused," he said that he "Never cussed her or yelled but he did complain because she and her children were not wearing masks." He said that he also told the children that he "Hoped they did not grow up to be like their mother. " Officer Hudson explained to the man that they were there to figure out what was going on exactly and to document the incident. Officer Hudson asked the male for his name, and he said it was "Jeff Blackford." Officer Hudson asked for his date of birth, and he refused to provide it. Officer Hudson explained that all they needed to do was document the issue but that he needed his identification or identifying information in order to complete the incident report. Blackford said that Officer Hudson "Was violating his rights, and Officer Hudson would have to take him to jail and run him to get any more information." Several officers tried to explain to Blackford that taking him to jail was unnecessary, but it would occur if he refused to provide any further information. Blackford repeatedly said that we "Would just have to take him." Officer Hudson asked that Officers place Blackford under arrest. As soon as he was placed in handcuffs, Blackford fell to his knees and claimed to be dizzy. He cited diabetes, stress, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as to why he was suddenly unable to stand. EMS was summoned to the scene to check Blackford. Blackford then began to cry and said that he did not want to go to jail because he "Was afraid for his dog that was home alone and was afraid that he would catch Covid-19 in the jail." Officer Hudson advised he had to explain to him that while masks were required in Hamilton County, Tennessee, where Blackford is from, they were not required here. Blackford also claimed to be a veteran and asked to go to the "VA hospital." Officer Hudson explained that he, too, was a veteran and that they could not transport him to the VA. EMS personnel arrived and advised that Blackford did not require any treatment. Blackford was then lead to my patrol vehicle. Blackford continued to cry and plead not to go to jail. He even added that "I see people break windows and other stuff on TV, but they never go to jail." Blackford was placed in the rear of the patrol vehicle, where he claimed he could not breathe and that his wrists hurt. While en route to the Whitfield County Jail, Blackford cried, yelled, threatened to vomit, tried to hit his head on the protective screen of the patrol vehicle, and stated that he was gonna "Die from the virus anyway." Blackford then fell while exiting the patrol vehicle and was helped him to his feet. He began shaking and screaming about "The virus." Blackford had to be secured in a holding cell until he calmed down and could be processed. Jeffery Alan Blackford, 65 of Chattanooga, was charged with disorderly conduct for causing a scene at Kroger, which involved sitting on the floor and yelling at a mother and her children, and obstruction of law enforcement for refusing to provide identifying information.