Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Bush's Townhall Meetings: Not for everyone

From the Boston Globe, Secret Service eyes volunteer who tossed 3 from Bush event:
The US Secret Service is intensifying its investigation into whether a Republican volunteer committed the federal crime of impersonating a federal agent while forcibly removing three people from one of President Bush's public Social Security events.

Alex Young, 25, Karen Bauer, 38, and Leslie Weise, 39, say they were forced out even though they never verbally protested or displayed anti-Bush shirts or signs. The White House has not disputed this account.

The three are self-described progressives who arrived at the Denver event with a "No more blood for oil" bumper sticker on their car and thoughts of protesting.
This is beginning to sound like thought crime to me. These people, along with others, are being threatened with arrest for actions they might take. Let's assume everyone is checked to rule out weapons and the like and there is no real threat of bodily harm. Then at worst there might be a brief disturbance. And moreover, then the folks can be arrested for actions they did willingly engage in. Instead, the Bush traveling circus uses misdirection and deception to shelter their fearful leader from any visible display of decent:

When they were entering, they were pulled them aside and told to wait for the Secret Service, Young said. A few minutes later, a man who refused to identify himself warned they would be arrested if they staged any protests. They were allowed to take the seats, only to be forced out without explanation about 20 minutes later. The man, whom Young described as about 30 and muscular with close-cropped hair, again refused to provide his name or affiliation. A local Secret Service agent told a lawyer representing the three they were targeted because of the bumper sticker.
This wouldn't be much to report if it was a single incident. Or if only the work of a few overzealous GOP operatives.
In Fargo, N.D., earlier this year, a local newspaper reported more than 40 residents were put on a list of people who should not be let in the door...

Several people reported similar treatment at other Social Security rallies, as well as during the 2004 presidential campaign, when the Bush team reportedly required some people to sign forms endorsing Bush to get into the events and removed dissenters.

The Justice Department recently moved to dismiss a case filed by the ACLU on behalf of two West Virginia residents arrested last year after refusing to remove anti-Bush shirts at a Bush campaign event at the state capitol. The ACLU is investigating other incidents to determine if it can show a pattern of silencing critics in unlawful ways.

"The incidents occurred in so many locations it's hard to believe individuals in each local area are coincidentally making the same decision," said Christopher Hansen of the ACLU Foundation in New York.

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