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Welcome to the Police State: Suppression of Anti-Bush Protests
by Daniel Shays Monday, Aug. 16, 2004 at 4:42 AM
Here's an excerpt from a Jim Hightower piece on SS suppression of anti-Bush protest
An independent libertarian writer, however, James
Bovard, chronicled George's splendid isolation from
citizen protest in last December's issue of The
American Conservative (http://www.amconmag.com). He wrote about Bill Neel, a retired steelworker who dared to raise his humble head at a 2002 Labor Day picnic in
Pittsburgh, where Bush had gone to be photographed
with worker-type people. Bill definitely did not fit
the message of the day, for this 65-year-old was
sporting a sign that said: The Bush Family Must Surely
Love the Poor, They Made so Many of Us.
Ouch! Negative! Not acceptable! Must go!
Bill was standing in a crowd of pro-Bush people who
were standing along the street where Bush's motorcade would pass. The Bush backers had all sorts of Hooray George-type signs. Those were totally okey-dokey with the Secret Service, but Neel's...well, it simply had to be removed.
He was told by the Pittsburgh cops to depart to the
designated FSZ, a ballpark encased in a chain-link
fence a third of a mile from Bush's (and the media's)
path. Bill, that rambunctious rebel, refused to budge.
So they arrested him for disorderly conduct,
dispatched him to the luxury of a Pittsburgh jail and
confiscated his offending sign.
At Bill's trial, a Pittsburgh detective testified that
the Secret Service had instructed local police to
confine "people that were making a statement pretty
much against the President and his views." The
district court judge not only tossed out the silly
charges against Neel but scolded the prosecution: "I
believe this is America. Whatever happened to 'I don't
agree with you, but I'll defend to the death your
right to say it'?"
This was no isolated incident. Bovard also takes us to
St. Louis, where George appeared last year. About 150
sign-toting protesters were shunted off to a zone
where they could not be seen from the street, and--get
ready to spin in your grave, Jimmy Madison--the media
were not allowed to talk to them, and protesters were
not allowed out of the protest zone to talk to the
Now meet Brett Bursey. He committed the crime of
holding up a No War for Oil sign when sensitive George visited Columbia, South Carolina, last year. Standing amid a sea of pro-Bush signs in a public area, Bursey was commanded by local police to remove himself forthwith to the FSZ half a mile away from the action, even though he was already two football fields from where Bush was to speak. No, said Brett. So, naturally, they arrested him. Asked why, the officer said, "It's the content of your sign that's the
Five months later, Brett's trespassing charge was
tossed on the rather obvious grounds
that--yoo-hoo!--there's no such thing as a member of
the public trespassing on public property at a public
event. But John Ashcroft is oblivious to the obvious,
so the Justice Department of the United States of
America (represented in this case by--can you stand
it?--US Attorney Strom Thurmond Jr.) inserted itself
into this local misdemeanor case, charging our man
Brett with a federal violation of "entering a
restricted area around the president." Great Goofy in
the Sky--he was 200 yards away, surrounded by cheering Bushcalytes who were also in the "restricted area."
Ashcroft/Thurmond/Bush attempted to deny Bursey's
lawyers access to Secret Service documents setting
forth official policy on who gets stopped for
criticizing the President, where, when and why. But
Bursey finally obtained the documents and posted them on the South Carolina Progressive Network website, http://www.scpronet.com; they reveal that what the Secret Service did goes against official policy.
Then there's the "Crawford Contretemps." In May of
2003 a troupe of about 100 antiwar Texans were on
their way by car to George W's Little Ponderosa,
located about five miles outside the tiny town of
Crawford. To get to Bush's place, one drives through
the town--but the traveling protesters were greeted by
a police blockade. They got out of their cars to find
out what was up, only to be told by Police Chief
Donnie Tidmore that they were violating a town
ordinance requiring a permit to protest within the
But wait, they said, we're on our way to Bush's
ranchette--we have no intention of protesting here.
Logic was a stranger that day in Crawford, however,
and Chief Tidmore warned them that they had three
minutes to turn around and go back from whence they
came, or else they'd be considered a demonstration,
and, he reminded them, they had no permit for that.
(Tidmore later said that he actually gave them seven
minutes to depart, in order to be "as fair as
Five of the group tried to talk sense with Tidmore,
but that was not possible. Their reward for even
trying was to be arrested for refusing to disperse and
given a night in the nearby McLennan County jail. The
chief said he could've just given them a ticket, but
he judged that arresting them was the only way to get
them to move, claiming that they were causing a danger because of the traffic.
This February, the five were brought to trial in
Crawford. Their lawyer asked Tidmore if someone who
simply wore a political button reading "Peace" could
be found in violation of Crawford's ordinance against
protesting without a permit. Yes, said the chief. "It
could be a sign of demonstration."
The Bushites are using federal, state and local police
to conduct an undeclared war against dissent,
literally incarcerating Americans who publicly express
their disagreements with him and his policies. The
ACLU and others have now sued Bush's Secret Service for its ongoing pattern of repressing legitimate,
made-in-America protest, citing cases in Arizona,
California, Virginia, Michigan, New Jersey, New
Mexico, Texas--and coming soon to a theater near you!
|ok||peppy||Thursday, Aug. 19, 2004 at 4:03 PM|