Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Somebody's gonna have to explain it to me

I'm not sure what it means.

The official story:

Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, opened her jacket to reveal a T-shirt that, according to a supporter, gave the number of U.S. war dead and sked, "How many more?"

She was also vocal, said U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer, and after she ignored instructions to close her jacket and quiet down, she was led out and arrested. Demonstrating in the House gallery is prohibited.
And note the rest of the article goes on to talk about very vocal protests outside the Capitol, protests Ms. Sheehan as not connected to.

Ms. Sheehan's story:

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."

Well, Ms. Sheehan's side of the story is being noticed. And apparently someone else was ejected for wearing a T-shirt with words on it. Even if it is even-handed, it seems unnecessary, if not downright unconsitutional. No mention of Ms. Sheehan shouting in this account.

Nor, apparently, was Ms. Young arrested. One has to wonder why.

Yet another update: Glenn Greenwald points out that the regulations of the U.S. Capitol Police Board expressly exclude "merely wearing Tee shirts, buttons or other similar articles of apparel that convey a message. Traffic Regulations for the Capitol Grounds, § 158" as grounds for violating the applicable statute, which reads in relevant part (as the lawyers love to say): "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).

I think that arrest is on very thin ice, indeed. And it won't help the GOP's image one bit, since they control the Congress, and this happened at Bush's speech.

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