A dark path

Posted: Sunday, February 05, 2006

Yesterday, the president delivered his State of the Union address. While his content is supposed to be the primary focus of this address, another important issue has come up surrounding this speech. This is the arrest and removal of peace activist Cindy Sheehan.

Cindy Sheehan, for those not familiar, is a mother of a fallen soldier who had been fighting in Iraq. Her crime that led to her arrest and removal from the visitor's gallery at the Capitol prior to the president's speech? Wearing a T-shirt that read, "2,245 Dead. How many more?"

According to news sources today, Mrs. Sheehan has been released and the charges (a misdemeanor) have been dropped, but this is after the fact. She was removed from the gallery by force, and now Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer has issued a statement saying, "The officers made a good-faith, but mistaken effort to enforce an old unwritten interpretation of the prohibitions about demonstrating in the Capitol."

This is all too convenient for many reasons. First, acting in a martial-law manner, the police removed someone illegally and prevented her from exercising her legal rights of expression, and second, they arbitrarily tried to " ... enforce an old unwritten interpretation ... " of the law.

Regardless of dropping the misdemeanor and issuing an apology, the president's foot soldiers successfully removed a citizen who had a dissenting voice against the current leader's rhetoric. This is a frightening and ominous action coming from an executive branch that is eroding the basic rights of the citizens of the United States of America. I for one am angry and frightened, and those who are not need to wake up and see the dark path this president is taking us.

Eric Coufal

Skagway



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