Police Apologize, Drop Charge Against Sheehan

Charges have dropped against Cindy Sheehan, with the Capitol Police saying they mistakenly arrested her for a law no longer on the books.

Capitol Police dropped a charge of unlawful conduct against anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan on Wednesday and apologized for ejecting her and a congressman’s wife from President Bush’s State of the Union address for wearing T-shirts with war messages. “The officers made a good faith, but mistaken effort to enforce an old unwritten interpretation of the prohibitions about demonstrating in the Capitol,” Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer said in a statement late Wednesday. “The policy and procedures were too vague,” he added. “The failure to adequately prepare the officers is mine.”

The extraordinary statement came a day after police removed Sheehan and Beverly Young, wife of Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young, R-Fla., from the visitors gallery Tuesday night. Sheehan was taken away in handcuffs before Bush’s arrival at the Capitol and charged with a misdemeanor, while Young left the gallery and therefore was not arrested, Gainer said. “Neither guest should have been confronted about the expressive T-shirts,” Gainer’s statement said.

I must concur with Cam Edwards on all counts here:

[I]f she broke the law prohibiting demonstrations or creating a disturbance in the Capitol, she should be charged. If she didn’t break the law, she never should have been arrested to begin with.

I’m a huge supporter of law enforcement, but I would expect our Capitol Police to know the law. As a result of this, Cindy Sheehan can now bray to her heart’s content about being silenced, blaming it all on the president instead of the people who actually arrested her.

Quite right. Now, certainly, she should have been arrested by the Fashion Police for wearing a t-shirt to the halls of Congress. But, surely, it would violate the 1st Amendment to make it a crime to wear a slogan on one’s shirt. Anyone with more than a week’s training in law enforcement would have known that.

So, if she wasn’t arrested for resisting the lawful orders of police to vacate the premises for violating a dress code, what exactly was she arrested for?

FILED UNDER: General, Law and the Courts, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Police Apologize, Drop Charge Vs. Sheehan…

    Capitol Police dropped a charge of unlawful conduct against anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan on Wedne…

  2. fndjfn says:

    What happened to the good old days when left wing nuts like Cornel West and Ralph Nader at least had the decency to wear business attire?!?!

  3. anjin-san says:

    Why is this a suprise? This sort of repression of free speech was common when Bush was on the campaign trail. Remember “Free Speech Zones”?

  4. todd w says:

    I’m not buying it. Yet another flunkie takes the blame for a clamp down on our rights. If the administration isn’t behind this I’d be quite surprised.

  5. Ralph Perna Sr. says:

    I think she should have attended with a wet t shirt.

  6. LJD says:

    Anijin, you moonbats will say anything. I still can’t believe your continued support for this crazy woman, who has proven herself to be such repeatedly.

    Free speech in Congress is reserved for legislators and invited guests. Not ranting observers.

  7. legion says:

    LJD, how exactly is wearing a t-shirt ‘ranting’? It may have been poor taste, but there’s still no law against that, while there are laws againt abuse of authority.

    And while we’re at in, why was a Representative’s wife merely ejected (rather than arrested) for wearing a similar t-shirt? It wasn’t because Cindy was more combative or confrontational, ’cause _the Capitol Police themselves_ admit the women were doing the exact same things & were both cooperative.

  8. legion says:

    And I almost forgot – Sheehan _was_ an invited guest fer cryin’ out loud… otherwise she wouldn’t have gotten in the gallery in the first place!

  9. LJD says:

    Sheehan, unlike Mrs. Young, has a long history of making a spectacle of herself (ranting). The Capitol Police had every reason to suspect that she would do so again. Furthermore, she was warned by the Police NOT to do exactly what she did. Sheehan herself admitted that her intent was to make a statement. The SOTU is simply not the appropriate time or place.

    I agree she should not have been arrested, but for a different reason. It gave her exactly what she wanted: to be a martyr for her cause. ‘Oh, my poor bruises and cuff marks, symbols of my repression’. Newsflash: She has no freakin’ idea what repression is!

    Clarification: Invited guests are welcome to sit quietly and respectfully. Those invited as guest speakers are entitled to take the floor. What’s so hard to understand about that?

    How would you feel about your ‘free speech’ when some jerk is screaming profanities at your daughter’s wedding (that you just paid for), or at the funeral of a close friend?

    I don’t see why the Bushaters can’t differentiate between rude behavior and being heard. (In fact, they’re more likely to BE heard with carefully chosen words, delivered humbly). Aren’t they smart enough to figure out a more responsible way to express themselves other than making a public spectacle? Throwing tantrums like a bratty child- sheesh!

  10. […] Drudge points out past practice when the Impeachment Trial of Clinton was held. A person wearing an Anti-Clinton T-shirt was removed. It was appropriate and followed past practice of dealing with ‘political’ items at such events. Good for the Capital Police and should not have apologized. […]

  11. Anderson says:

    How would you feel about your ‘free speech’ when some jerk is screaming profanities at your daughter’s wedding (that you just paid for), or at the funeral of a close friend?

    Right, because the SOTU is a private ceremony for Congress and the President.

    Y’all Sheehan-haters let her drive you nuts. She was illegally arrested, and you don’t care. Please don’t call yourselves “conservatives” any more, because there might be some real conservatives present who would be insulted.

  12. LJD says:

    Sheehan and two others were asked to leave (we know now, inappropriately). The difference is: The other two did. She refused, and was arrested. Further, her admitted intent was to make a scene. Furthermore, she has a history of making a scene.

    She doesn’t bother me at all. The more she plays this game, the more the wacky left supports her, the more ground you lose. You’re shooting yourselves in the foot.

    FWIW, I do NOT care that she was arrested. It would have been even more entertaining if there were laws on the books to have arrested much of the Dems for their shameful performance. Similarly, they are shooting themselves in the foot with their crazy antics.

    I’m loving it Anderson. Perhaps you can tell me why the Dems are so angry? Not enough attention? No one wants to vote for you anymore? Can’t express yourself without name calling and accusations?

    There’s a better way? O.K. What the hell is it? SO far, they’re not showing us anything.

  13. anjin-san says:

    LJD.

    Actually, Sheehan was an invited guest. But you are a Bush man, so don’t let facts get in your way. The fact that the capitol police admitted they screwed up should tell you something.

    Why are Democrats so angry? Possibly because we were brought up to believe that in America we would never see people dragged off in handcuffs when they attempted free speech.

    Annoy the King, go to jail. Welcome to Bush’s America.

  14. ICallMasICM says:

    I didn’t see the speech but did GWB point to her in the crowd and have her removed or was he sending mind beams to the Capitol police? Or was that in your paranoid delusions?

  15. LJD says:

    Anjin-

    Is your total lack of reading comprehension the result of no-performance, feel-good education measures by Democrats?

    I won’t repeat myself. Try going back and reading it.

    I am truly enlightened by the strict adherence to an individual’s right to speech by the left here. I’ll remember that the next time I’m at a peace rally, when I offer my opinion, loudly, when all the kooks are trying to listen to the presentation.

  16. legion says:

    FWIW, I do NOT care that she was arrested. It would have been even more entertaining if there were laws on the books to have arrested much of the Dems for their shameful performance.

    So LJD would like to see laws allowing people to be arrested for showing disrespect to the President.
    Welcome to the new America.

  17. anjin-san says:

    The color of LJD’s shirt is showing, and I am afraid it is brown…

  18. Beverly Young and Cindy Sheehan get an apology…

    I like Beverly Young and the St Pete Times has given access to a feature story on her last December. Go and read it, she is an absolute hoot. I wished she would run for the Senate against Bill Nelson. That won’t happen but God bless her….

  19. LJD says:

    Um, I said ‘entertaining’. i.e. it would be funny… My point was to call attention to the unprofessional, rude behavior of many of the Dems.

    There used to be a time when, regardless of the controversy or division, issues could be debated without getting personal. There was a common courtesy extended even to you greatest adversary.

    Now it’s all tantrums and name-calling. You two are a prefect example.

  20. legion says:

    Yeah, LJD. We’ll all take a tip from people like you and Herb and T-bird…
    I donÂ’t see why the Bushaters canÂ’t differentiate between rude behavior and being heard. (In fact, theyÂ’re more likely to BE heard with carefully chosen words, delivered humbly). ArenÂ’t they smart enough to figure out a more responsible way to express themselves other than making a public spectacle? Throwing tantrums like a bratty child- sheesh!

  21. anjin-san says:

    Let review some of the classy. adult comments by LJD:

    Anjin-

    Is your total lack of reading comprehension the result of no-performance, feel-good education measures by Democrats?

    I wonÂ’t repeat myself. Try going back and reading it.

    I am truly enlightened by the strict adherence to an individualÂ’s right to speech by the left here. IÂ’ll remember that the next time IÂ’m at a peace rally, when I offer my opinion, loudly, when all the kooks are trying to listen to the presentation.

    Guess he is right, only a “kook” hopes for peace.

  22. anjin-san says:

    Hey lets review some more of LJD’s gentlemanly remarks:

    >Anijin, you moonbats will say anything. I still canÂ’t believe your continued support for this crazy woman, who has proven herself to be such repeatedly.

    Free speech in Congress is reserved for legislators and invited guests. Not ranting observers.

    …Now lets remember that Ms. Sheehan is the mother of a boy who put his ass on the line in Iraq and died serving his country, as opposed to say, talking tough in chat rooms from the safety of ones home.