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Cindy Sheehan Released After Arrest for Wearing Shirt
By David Swanson
Note: Going on no sleep, Cindy plans to speak this morning on Good Morning America and the Today Show about the experience of being arrested for wearing a shirt.
Cindy Sheehan lost her son in Bush's war. Tonight she accepted an invitation from Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey to attend Bush's State of the Union speech. She had told me earlier that she didn't want to go. But she ended up going. All day she had been wearing a t-shirt and a sweat shirt. When she unzipped the sweat shirt, revealing that the t-shirt displayed a count of US soldiers killed in Iraq, the Capitol Police lifted her out of her seat and hauled her off to jail. She was released over 3 hours later, charged with unlawful conduct, which carries a fine of $45. She did not see the speech and was not able to speak at the rally outside the Capitol or the viewing party at Bus Boys and Poets restaurant, as she had planned. This was completely unexpected and not planned for. Cindy is clearly tired and frustrated by the experience.
Protesters from the World-Can't-Wait event marched from the Capitol Reflecting Pool to the jail where Cindy was first taken. Both on the way there and after reaching the jail, they encountered abusive and unnecessary force from the police. One young woman was kicked in the head, and was treated in an ambulance and released.
The jail was on D Street, NE, near the Senate office buildings. The police told us they were taking Cindy to central processing at Judiciary Square and would bring her back and release her. Then they said she'd be released over there, but when we got there, they said she'd be released at a jail at 415 4th Street SW, so we headed over there, and she was in fact released. Television cameras followed the whole way. Cindy was too tired and fed-up to make a lengthy statement. She has invitations for the morning from the Today Show, Good Morning America, and others.
Also: C-Span has posted the video (two and a half hours) of a forum on impeachment from yesterday. Go to www.c-span.org and click on "Bush Administration" in the upper left.
HERE IS CINDY'S OWN REPORT:
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 shrit 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,
Gold Star Families for Peace alert.
GSFP co-founder Cindy Sheehan was arrested last night at the state of the union address. She was invited to attend by Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey. . She was escorted into the chambers by a representative of Congresswoman Barbara Lees office. Cindy had no intention of disrupting the speech. Partly out of respect for Lynn Woolsey . It was released by someone from the capital that Cindy unfurled a banner and was disruptive.
The truth is Cindy was wearing a t-shirt the VFP had made to commemorate the grime milestone of the death of the 2000th soldier in Iraq. The shirt says 2245 dead how many more. Cindy had been wearing this shirt all day and wore it to the SOTU. I was told by a congressional staffer that as far as they were aware there was no dress code guidelines for the guests who sit in the gallery. Cindy was in the gallery.
She was seated at 8:30 pm. It was hot in the building so Cindy unzipped her sweater to remove it. Before she even had it off a capital police officer began shouting “protestor