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?