A man arrested in June after he told Vice President Cheney “I think your polices in Iraq are reprehensible” has filed suit in Federal Court saying a Secret Service agent violated his civil rights. It is quite telling that the arrest occurred 10 minutes after the man spoke to Cheney. The agent asked that the man be charged with harassment but the charges were later dropped.
from the New York Times:
In his suit, filed in Federal District Court in Denver, the man, Steven Howards, an environmental consultant who lives in Golden, Colo., says he stepped up to the vice president to speak his mind in a public place and found himself in handcuffs — in violation, the suit says, of the Constitution’s language about free speech and illegal search and seizure
from the Rocky Mountain News :
Attorney David Lane said that on June 16, Steve Howards was walking his 7-year-old son to a piano practice, when he saw Cheney surrounded by a group of people in an outdoor mall area, shaking hands and posing for pictures with several people.
According to the lawsuit filed at U.S. District Court in Denver, Howards and his son walked to about two-to-three feet from where Cheney was standing, and said to the vice president, “I think your policies in Iraq are reprehensible,” or words to that effect, then walked on.
Ten minutes later, according to Howards’ lawsuit, he and his son were walking back through the same area, when they were approached by Secret Service agent Virgil D. “Gus” Reichle Jr., who asked Howards if he had “assaulted” the vice president. Howards denied doing so, but was nonetheless placed in handcuffs and taken to the Eagle County Jail.
The lawsuit states that the Secret Service agent instructed that Howards should be issued a summons for harassment, but that on July 6 the Eagle County District Attorney’s Office dismissed all charges against Howards.
from the Vail Daily on 6/19/2006 – Secret Service Quiet about Man Arrested Near Cheney:
BEAVER CREEK – The U.S.Secret Service is offering no details about the arrest of Steven Howards, who they allege acted strangely around Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday during an economic summit in Beaver Creek.
“His behavior and demeanor wasn’t quite right,” Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren saidon Friday. “The agents tried to question him, and he was argumentative and combative.”
On Monday, another spokesman for the Secret Service refused to say what wasn’t quite right” about Howards’ demeanor and whether federal charges were brought against Howards.
“No further comment,” said the spokesman, Jonathan Cherry.
The New York Times notes two other case of the Bush/Cheney effort to stifle free speech and dissent that are before the courts. In another Colorado case two people are suing for being evicted from a public event because their car had an anti-war sticker. The other case is in West Virginia where two people were arrested for wearing ant-Bush t-shirts.
Last April in a post entitled “Annoy Me, Go to Jail” we discussed this same intolerance of any thing not pleasing to Republican ears and its attempt to stifle free speech on the internet.
Republican hypocrisy crys out to us again and again . The Constitution is a great thing until someone exercises it against them – like the right to free speech.