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What Really Happened at My Arrest -Cindy Sheehan

 
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Fintan
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 10:48 am    Post subject: What Really Happened at My Arrest -Cindy Sheehan Reply with quote



Quote:
What Really Happened at the State of the Union

by Cindy Sheehan

Dear Friends,

As most of you have probably heard, I was arrested before the State of the Union Address tonight.

I am speechless with fury at what happened and with grief over what we have lost in our country.

There have been lies from the police and distortions by the press. (Shocker) So this is what really happened:

This afternoon at the People's State of the Union Address in DC where I was joined by Congresspersons Lynn Woolsey and John Conyers, Ann Wright, Malik Rahim and John Cavanagh, Lynn brought me a ticket to the State of the Union Address. At that time, I was wearing the shirt that said: 2245 Dead. How many more?

After the PSOTU press conference, I was having second thoughts about going to the SOTU at the Capitol. I didn't feel comfortable going. I knew George Bush would say things that would hurt me and anger me and I knew that I couldn't disrupt the address because Lynn had given me the ticket and I didn't want to be disruptive out of respect for her. I, in fact, had given the ticket to John Bruhns who is in Iraq Veterans Against the War. However, Lynn's office had already called the media and everyone knew I was going to be there so I sucked it up and went.

I got the ticket back from John, and I met one of Congresswoman Barbara Lee's staffers in the Longworth Congressional Office building and we went to the Capitol via the undergroud tunnel. I went through security once, then had to use the rest room and went through security again.

My ticket was in the 5th gallery, front row, fourth seat in. The person who in a few minutes was to arrest me, helped me to my seat.

I had just sat down and I was warm from climbing 3 flights of stairs back up from the bathroom so I unzipped my jacket. I turned to the right to take my left arm out, when the same officer saw my shirt and yelled; "Protester." He then ran over to me, hauled me out of my seat and roughly (with my hands behind my back) shoved me up the stairs. I said something like "I'm going, do you have to be so rough?" By the way, his name is Mike Weight.

The officer ran with me to the elevators yelling at everyone to move out of the way. When we got to the elevators, he cuffed me and took me outside to await a squad car. On the way out, someone behind me said, "That's Cindy Sheehan." At which point the officer who arrested me said: "Take these steps slowly." I said, "You didn't care about being careful when you were dragging me up the other steps." He said, "That's because you were protesting." Wow, I get hauled out of the People's House because I was, "Protesting."

I was never told that I couldn't wear that shirt into the Congress. I was never asked to take it off or zip my jacket back up. If I had been asked to do any of those things...I would have, and written about the suppression of my freedom of speech later. I was immediately, and roughly (I have the bruises and muscle spasms to prove it) hauled off and arrested for "unlawful conduct."

After I had my personal items inventoried and my fingers printed, a nice Sgt. came in and looked at my shirt and said, "2245, huh? I just got back from there."

I told him that my son died there. That's when the enormity of my loss hit me. I have lost my son. I have lost my First Amendment rights. I have lost the country that I love. Where did America go? I started crying in pain.

What did Casey die for? What did the 2244 other brave young Americans die for? What are tens of thousands of them over there in harm's way for still? For this? I can't even wear a shirt that has the number of troops on it that George Bush and his arrogant and ignorant policies are responsible for killing.

I wore the shirt to make a statement. The press knew I was going to be there and I thought every once in awhile they would show me and I would have the shirt on. I did not wear it to be disruptive, or I would have unzipped my jacket during George's speech. If I had any idea what happens to people who wear shirts that make the neocons uncomfortable that I would be arrested...maybe I would have, but I didn't.

There have already been many wild stories out there.

I have some lawyers looking into filing a First Amendment lawsuit against the government for what happened tonight. I will file it. It is time to take our freedoms and our country back.

I don't want to live in a country that prohibits any person, whether he/she has paid the ulitmate price for that country, from wearing, saying, writing, or telephoning any negative statements about the government. That's why I am going to take my freedoms and liberties back. That's why I am not going to let Bushco take anything else away from me...or you.

I am so appreciative of the couple of hundred of protesters who came to the jail while I was locked up to show their support....we have so much potential for good...there is so much good in so many people.

Four hours and 2 jails after I was arrested, I was let out. Again, I am so upset and sore it is hard to think straight.

Keep up the struggle...I promise you I will too.

Love and peace soon,

Cindy

Quote:


Cindy Sheehan and Lesser-Evil Politics: Campaigning Against the War in California

By Joshua Frank

Cindy Sheehan may be elevating her activism to the next level. The mother of the antiwar movement, while attending the World Social Forum in Venezuela, told reporters that she is considering running against Senator Dianne Feinstein in California’s Democratic primary next June.

Shinning a spotlight on Feinstein’s malignant war blemishes would be the focal point of her campaign. Undoubtedly, Sheehan would receive generous support for her quest from California’s ever-increasing war resistance. Sean Penn would likely race to her side for photo-ops. The New York Times would write their slimy op-eds. Fox News would deploy their smear brigades—this could potentially be the biggest thing the antiwar movement has seen since Sheehan propped up her tent outside Dubya’s Crawford ranch. In the least it would get the American public talking......

http://www.pressaction.com/news/weblog/full_article/frank01312006/

Quote:
Sheehan Claims Police Brutality

"Peace mom" Cindy Sheehan is so angry that she wasn't allowed to disrupt last night's State of the Union address, that she intends to file a lawsuit claiming she was brutalized by Capitol Hill police who suppressed her first amendment freedoms.

"I have the bruises and muscle spasms to prove it," Sheehan said, in a message posted to several left-wing Web sites after she was arrested and then released on her own recognizance.

Sheehan also contends she suffered emotional trauma, complaining, "I am so upset and sore it is hard to think straight."

The Bush-bashing "Gold-Star" mom says she wants to take legal action, announcing: "I have some lawyers looking into filing a First Amendment lawsuit against the government for what happened tonight. I will file it. It is time to take our freedoms and our country back."

In her message Sheehan detailed the abuse by one security guard who hauled her off after she unzipped her jacked to display a T-shirt decrying the number of Iraq war dead.

"[A Capitol Police] officer ran over to me, hauled me out of my seat and roughly [with my hands behind my back], shoved me up the stairs," she said.

The anti-war mom recalled complaining as she was being hustled out of the building, "I'm going, do you have to be so rough?"

Sheehan said that after the officer was informed that she was a big celebrity, the abusive treatment stopped.

"You didn't care about being careful when you were dragging me up the other steps," she recalled telling the Capitol guard.

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2006/2/1/83442.shtml?s=ic
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Fintan
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 5:27 pm    Post subject: Arresting Sheehan : They're Eroding Our Freedom of Speech Reply with quote



So official charges have been brought against Cindy Sheehan for Disorderly conduct. For wearing a shirt with the number of dead soldiers to the State of the Union address. How is that disorderly? Is this freedom of speech?

This is nothing more than a naked attempt to stifle dissent and to create a criticism-free bubble around George Bush. We apparently now have a country where the only ideas allowed to be expressed in our Nation's Capitol while the President is speaking are ones which glorify the Government and its Leader and where dissenting views are prohibited and will subject someone to arrest.

Message cleansing of that sort belongs at a political rally in North Korea, not in Washington, DC.

Quote:
Learning from Dear Leader

by Glen Greenwald, Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I disagree with lots of things which Cindy Sheehan says but if the circumstances of her arrest last night at the State of the Union speech are anything like what she describes them as being (h/t Lis Riba), then her arrest is completely disgraceful.

I tend to believe her account because most of the facts she recites don't seem to be in dispute, and the accounts in the major news organizations, which apparently interviewed the law enforcement agencies involved in the arrest, are reporting much the same thing. In essence, Sheehan sat in her seat, took her jacket off, and was wearing a t-shirt which read: "2245 Dead. How many more?" As soon as she took her jacket off, she was pulled out of her seat, arrested, and taken out of the hall.

This is nothing more than a naked attempt to stifle dissent and to create a criticism-free bubble around George Bush. Presidents routinely use all sorts of propagandistic imagery at the State of the Union to decorate their speeches with an aura of regal patriotism. We always see weeping widows and military heroes and symbolic guests of all sorts who are used as props and visuals to bolster the President's message both emotionally and psychologically. The State of the Union speech is hardly free of visual messages and propaganda of that sort; quite the contrary.

But we apparently now have a country where the only ideas allowed to be expressed in our Nation's Capitol while the President is speaking are ones which glorify the Government and its Leader and where dissenting views are prohibited and will subject someone to arrest. Message cleansing of that sort belongs at a political rally in North Korea, not in Washington, DC.

There have been stories here and there of the Secret Service and other federal government agencies exercising the police power of the state for no purpose other than to stifle dissent. Virtually every appearance of George Bush is meticulously and vigilantly staged to ensure that he is surrounded only by agreement and adoration and almost never dissent of any kind.

This is plainly unhealthy and disgustingly contrary to every defining core American value. Our leaders aren't entitled to reverence and worship and aren't supposed to want it. Criticism, dissent and divergence of opinion are things which the founders did everything possible to foster, and the idea that someone is dragged out of a speech by the President for silently and peacefully wearing an anti-war t-shirt is disgraceful and embarrassing.

And these attacks on dissent are particularly ironic given that they occurred in the midst of a speech by a President who loves to lecture the world on the virtues of liberty and who holds himself out as the Chief Crusader for freedom and democracy.

In fact, as Cindy Sheehan was being dragged out of the Royal Speech, His Majesty was regaling us with the importance of respecting civil debate, the virtues of diversity and freedom, and the need to protect minority views. It's as if there was some universal force that wanted to provide the most compelling demonstration possible of how disingenuous his speech was, and came up with the idea of having Cindy Sheehan dragged out of the hall for doing nothing other than wearing a t-shirt politely expressing criticism of Bush's war.

UPDATE: The law is clear that Sheehan did nothing illegal and there was no legal basis whatsoever for removing and arresting her for wearing that t-shirt.

In Bynum v. U.S. Capitol Police Bd. (Dist. D.C. 1997) (.pdf), the District Court found the regulations applying 140 U.S.C. 193 -- the section of the U.S. code restricting activities inside the Capitol -- to be unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. Bynum involved a Reverend who was threatened with arrest by Capitol Police while leading a small group in prayer inside the Capitol. The Capitol Police issued that threat on the ground that the praying constituted a "demonstration."

That action was taken pursuant to the U.S. Code, in which Congress decreed as follows: "It shall be unlawful for any person or group of persons wilfully and knowingly . . . to parade, demonstrate or picket within any Capitol Building." 140 U.S.C. 193(f)(b)(7).

As the Bynum court explained: "Believing that the Capitol Police needed guidance in determining what behavior constitutes a 'demonstration,' the United States Capitol Police Board issued a regulation that interprets 'demonstration activity,'" and that regulation specifically provides that it "does not include merely wearing Tee shirts, buttons or other similar articles of apparel that convey a message. Traffic Regulations for the Capitol Grounds, 158" (emphasis added).

Nothing Sheehan did could even be remotely construed to constitute a "demonstration." She was sitting quietly in her seat wearing a t-shirt, an activity which is expressly excluded from the activities prohibited by this statute and, in any event, could not possibly be criminalized consistent with the First Amendment. We don't have a system of government -- at least we didn't used to -- where someone can be arrested for wearing a t-shirt that expresses criticism of the President.

Isn't that just the most basic political value that we have? What kind of Americans sit idly and passively by while they watch a fellow citizen arrested and removed from the Capitol during a political speech for doing nothing other than wearing an anti-war t-shirt?

UPDATE II: If you are someone still in need of dispositive proof that Michelle Malkin is one of the most un-American, liberty-hating, disturbing creatures around, please see this rancid post of hers (h/t Mahablog) where she calls for Rep. Lynn Woolsey to be barred from inviting anyone to such speeches in the future because someone she invited wore a t-shirt which was critical of The Leader.

UPDATE III: Apparently, there were some actions taken at the State of the Union speech which -- despite clearly constituting "demonstrations" (which, unlike t-shirts, are actually prohibited by the U.S. Code) -- were allowed and apparently encouraged:



(The top photo, showing grown men wiggling their purple-ink-stained fingers around in the air, was apparently depicting a demonstration from last year's State of the Union speech. None of the participants in the Purple Fingered Dance Demonstration were arrested or asked to leave).

UPDATE IV: Steve Benen at The Carpetbagger Report has compiled some of the numerous, disturbing incidents where individuals have been banned, and often removed, from Bush speeches because they wore t-shirts expressing anti-Bush views.

As I said in Comments, I would be less inclined to become agitated over this incident if it weren't for the fact that there is a long line of similar incidents where the Administration has clearly taken steps to prevent the President from being exposed to dissent of any type. The White House goes to great lengths to ensure that the Commander-in-Chief appears only with the most regal and glorifying imagery and sloppy, unplanned political messages conflict with that propagandistic stage-managing and are thus expressly prohibited.

http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2006/02/learning-from-dear-leader.html
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