BREAKING: Cindy Sheehan Arrested inside Capitol for Wearing T-Shirt!
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Call the White House Comment Line 202-456-1111,1,1 and express your outrage that the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq was arrested for wearing a t-shirt with the number of soldiers killed in Iraq!!!!!
Update 1:44 am: David Swanson reports and has lots of photos, including this one of Cindy in her illegal t-shirt taken earlier Tuesday at the Democracy Rising forum - watch it all on C-Span! Or watch Swanson's excellent speech alone as filmed by Bill Hughes. Swanson also posts Cindy's statement:
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,
Update 12:18 am: Marcia Jansen of DemocracyRising described an earlier confrontation with the police when protesters left the Reflecting Pool to walk towards the Capitol Police HQ. They waited for a green light on Constitution Avenue before stepping into the street, at which point several policemen suddenly lunged at them, yelling "Get back on the sidewalk!" and "Get back and stay back!" without any explanation. One woman was pushed forcefully. As the crowd became tense, Jansen repeatedly asked the police why they could not cross the street, and finally was told a motorcade was coming. She said no warnings were given and no information was provided except after repeated questions, which made the crowd tense - all unncessarily.
Update 12:08 am: David reports Cindy has just been released. She was filmed by 3 networks and answered a few quick questions and mentioned she was "roughed up" - David said she looked tired and frustrated. She went off to sleep and will appear on the Today show in the morning.
Update 12:07 am: Will Bunch reports via MSNBC that Cindy's t-shirt said "2,245 Dead - How Many More??" "Did you know that in 1971, the Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional to arrest a man who wore a "F--- the Draft" T-shirt into the courthouse? (Cohen v. California, you can look it up.) So now Alito's on the court for 45 minutes and your civil liberties are already going down the toilet. You were warned. Somebody at Daily Kos suggested that every American who's appalled by what happened tonight should -- on the same day -- wear a T-shirt that reads "2,245 Dead -- How Many More?? to work, school, church, court (by day's end, perhaps) or wherever we need to be. It's our right, after all. We're in. Maybe someone can use the T-shirt proceeds to buy some body armor for the troops."
Update 11:44 pm: David Swanson reports by phone on the scene: During the protest in front of the Capitol Police HQ, 2-3 dozen police locked arms and pushed the crowd across the street. A protester named James from World Can't Wait was arrested for chanting "Free Cindy Now" with a megaphone. As the police grabbed the megaphone, they hit a woman protester in the head, but she is ok. They also kicked Aliska from World Can't Wait in the head, and she required treatment in an ambulance before she was released. Cindy is now being taken to the Central Processing Center in Judiciary Square, and the crowd is following her.
Update 11:04 pm: There are 200 protesters standing outside the Capitol Police HQ between 1st and 2nd on D St NE (between Hart SOB and Union Station). They are chanting and demanding Cindy's release. Tell the DC media to cover the protest!
Update 11:00 pm: Reuters reports, A Reuters photographer said Sheehan entered the House gallery a few minutes before Bush was to speak and was directed to her seat. She had been seated for less than a minute when a plainclothes agent took her by the arm, said, "You've got to leave," and rushed her from the gallery. Sheehan did not resist and left with a smile. Capitol Police Sgt. Kimberly Schneider had no immediate details on why Sheehan was removed. [Reuters photo shows Cindy being
ordered out directed to hear seat with her sweatshirt on.]
Update 10:39 pm from BradBlog: Sheehan still in jail, Morning Shows "fighting over her"... David Swanson, in D.C. tells The BRAD BLOG that Sheehan is still in jail "in Anacostia, where we're used to going when we get arrested." Swanson had been previously arrested along with Sheehan at earlier protests. Swanson tells us, "Attorneys are trying to get her out. Media is fighting over here...Today Show, Good Morning America, they all want her...but she has to get out of jail first."
Update 10:25 pm: Bush said "freedom" or "free" 19 times in his speech even as Cindy was been locked up for wearing a t-shirt with the number of U.S. soldiers Bush sent to die for "freedom."
Update 10:14 pm: Here is the pre-event press release from the Capitol Police.
Update 10:21 pm: AP: Activist Cindy Sheehan Arrested at Capitol
Sheehan, who was invited to attend the speech by Rep. Lynn Woolsey, was charged with demonstrating in the Capitol building, said Capitol Police Sgt. Kimberly Schneider. The charge was later changed to unlawful conduct, Schneider said. Both charges are misdemeanors.
Sheehan was taken in handcuffs from the Capitol to police headquarters a few blocks away. Her case was processed as Bush spoke.
Schneider said Sheehan had worn a T-shirt with an anti-war slogan to the speech and covered it up until she took her seat. Police warned her that such displays were not allowed, but she did not respond, the spokeswoman said.
Police handcuffed Sheehan and removed her from the gallery before Bush arrived. Sheehan was to be released on her own recognizance, Schneider said.
"I'm proud that Cindy's my guest tonight," Woolsey said in an interview before the speech. "She has made a difference in the debate to bring our troops home from Iraq."
Woolsey offered Sheehan a ticket to the speech — Gallery 5, seat 7, row A — earlier Tuesday while Sheehan was attending an "alternative state of the union" press conference by CODEPINK, a group pushing for an end to the Iraq war.
Sheehan, wrapped in a bright pink scarf against the cold, protested outside the White House with a handful of others before heading to the Capitol Tuesday evening. There were no cameras around, but the small band faced the executive mansion and repeatedly shouted, "You're evicted! Get out of our house!"
BradBlog has more from our own David Swanson:
9:30p ET - The BRAD BLOG has confirmed the arrest moments ago with David Swanson of AfterDowningStreet.org.
According to Swanson, Sheehan was "arrested for wearing the shirt she was wearing all day, which had the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq...She was lifted out of her seat [in the Capitol Chamber gallery] by the Capitol Police and taken away."
Swanson told The BRAD BLOG moment ago that Sheehan is "now under arrest and lockup by Capitol Police." He confirmed that moments ago with Gael Murphy, a co-founder of CodePink, an organization which has been working Sheehan. Murphy spoke by cell with Sheehan after the arrest, and they are currently arranging for an attorney for her.
"This not the Park Police," said Swanson. "We're used to getting arrested by them. This was the Capitol Police....She didn't even want to go to the speech, she said she couldn't stand to listen to Bush, but she went. She didn't even protest, she was just wearing the same shirt she'd be wearing all day, a black shirt with the number of troops killed. It was already 'out of date' and she had to add 3 more to the previous number."
9:40p - Reports we are receiving in are in conflict with AP's updated report that Sheehan had a protest banner prepared to be unfurled. It was, according to our sources, her T-Shirt which seems to be the given reason for her arrest... According to AP:
A Capitol police official reportedly said Sheehan had unfurled a banner, which is a violation of House rules.
We cannot confirm the "banner" reports, and have been told by several sources the arrest was due to the T-Shirt she was wearing after already being allowed into the Capitol chamber where Bush was to deliver his State of the Union address just moments later...