View Full Version : Bush Zones Go National

03-13-2005, 03:42 PM

Bush Zones Go National

by Jim Hightower

At the 2000 GOP nominating convention in Philadelphia, candidate Bush created a fenced-in, out-of-sight protest zone that could only hold barely 1,500 people at a time. So citizens who wished to give voice to their many grievances with the Powers That Be had to: (1) Schedule their exercise of First Amendment rights with the decidedly unsympathetic authorities. (2) Report like cattle to the protest pen at their designated time, and only in the numbers authorized.

(3) Then, under the recorded surveillance of the authorities, feel free to let loose with all the speech they could utter within their allotted minutes (although no one--not Bush, not convention delegates, not the preening members of Congress, not the limousine-gliding corporate sponsors and certainly not the mass media--would be anywhere nearby to hear a single word of what they had to say). Imagine how proud the Founders would be of this interpretation of their revolutionary work. The Democrats, always willing to learn useful tricks from the opposition, created their own "free-speech zone" when they gathered in Los Angeles that year for their convention. Once ensconced in the White House, the Bushites institutionalized the art of dissing dissent, routinely dispatching the Secret Service to order local police to set up FSZs to quarantine protesters wherever Bush goes. The embedded media trooping dutifully behind him almost never cover this fascinating and truly newsworthy phenomenon, instead focusing almost entirely on spoon-fed soundbites from the President's press office. An independent libertarian writer, however, James Bovard, chronicled George's splendid isolation from citizen protest in last December's issue of The American Conservative (www.amconmag.com). He wrote about Bill Neel, a retired steelworker who dared to raise his humble head at a 2002 Labor Day picnic in Pittsburgh, where Bush had gone to be photographed with worker-type people. Bill definitely did not fit the message of the day, for this 65-year-old was sporting a sign that said: The Bush Family Must Surely Love the Poor, They Made so Many of Us. Ouch! Negative! Not acceptable! Must go!

Bill was standing in a crowd of pro-Bush people who were standing along the street where Bush's motorcade would pass. The Bush backers had all sorts of Hooray George-type signs. Those were totally okey-dokey with the Secret Service, but Neel's...well, it simply had to be removed. He was told by the Pittsburgh cops to depart to the designated FSZ, a ballpark encased in a chain-link fence a third of a mile from Bush's (and the media's) path. Bill, that rambunctious rebel, refused to budge. So they arrested him for disorderly conduct, dispatched him to the luxury of a Pittsburgh jail and confiscated his offending sign. At Bill's trial, a Pittsburgh detective testified that the Secret Service had instructed local police to confine "people that were making a statement pretty much against the President and his views." The district court judge not only tossed out the silly charges against Neel but scolded the prosecution: "I believe this is America. Whatever happened to 'I don't agree with you, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it'?" This was no isolated incident. Bovard also takes us to St. Louis, where George appeared last year. About 150 sign-toting protesters were shunted off to a zone where they could not be seen from the street, and--get ready to spin in your grave, Jimmy Madison--the media were not allowed to talk to them, and protesters were not allowed out of the protest zone to talk to the media. Now meet Brett Bursey. He committed the crime of holding up a No War for Oil sign when sensitive George visited Columbia, South Carolina, last year. Standing amid a sea of pro-Bush signs in a public area, Bursey was commanded by local police to remove himself forthwith to the FSZ half a mile away from the action, even though he was already two football fields from where Bush was to speak. No, said Brett. So, naturally, they arrested him. Asked why, the officer said, "It's the content of your sign that's the problem."

Five months later, Brett's trespassing charge was tossed on the rather obvious grounds that--yoo-hoo!--there's no such thing as a member of the public trespassing on public property at a public event. But John Ashcroft is oblivious to the obvious, so the Justice Department of the United States of America (represented in this case by--can you stand it?--US Attorney Strom Thurmond Jr.) inserted itself into this local misdemeanor case, charging our man Brett with a federal violation of "entering a restricted area around the president." Great Goofy in the Sky--he was 200 yards away, surrounded by cheering Bushcalytes who were also in the "restricted area."

Ashcroft/Thurmond/Bush attempted to deny Bursey's lawyers access to Secret Service documents setting forth official policy on who gets stopped for criticizing the President, where, when and why. But Bursey finally obtained the documents and posted them on the South Carolina Progressive Network website, www.scpronet.com; they reveal that what the Secret Service did goes against official policy. Then there's the "Crawford Contretemps." In May of 2003 a troupe of about 100 antiwar Texans were on their way by car to George W's Little Ponderosa, located about five miles outside the tiny town of Crawford. To get to Bush's place, one drives through the town--but the traveling protesters were greeted by a police blockade. They got out of their cars to find out what was up, only to be told by Police Chief Donnie Tidmore that they were violating a town ordinance requiring a permit to protest within the city limits. But wait, they said, we're on our way to Bush's ranchette--we have no intention of protesting here. Logic was a stranger that day in Crawford, however, and Chief Tidmore warned them that they had three minutes to turn around and go back from whence they came, or else they'd be considered a demonstration, and, he reminded them, they had no permit for that. (Tidmore later said that he actually gave them seven minutes to depart, in order to be "as fair as possible.") Five of the group tried to talk sense with Tidmore, but that was not possible. Their reward for even trying was to be arrested for refusing to disperse and given a night in the nearby McLennan County jail. The chief said he could've just given them a ticket, but he judged that arresting them was the only way to get them to move, claiming that they were causing a danger because of the traffic. This February, the five were brought to trial in Crawford. Their lawyer asked Tidmore if someone who simply wore a political button reading "Peace" could be found in violation of Crawford's ordinance against protesting without a permit. Yes, said the chief. "It could be a sign of demonstration." The five were convicted.

The Bushites are using federal, state and local police to conduct an undeclared war against dissent, literally incarcerating Americans who publicly express their disagreements with him and his policies. The ACLU and others have now sued Bush's Secret Service for its ongoing pattern of repressing legitimate, made-in-America protest, citing cases in Arizona, California, Virginia, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Texas--and coming soon to a theater near you! If incarceration is not enough to deter dissenters, how about some old-fashioned goon-squad tactics like infiltration and intimidation of protesters? In May of 2002 Ashcroft issued a decree terminating a quarter-century-old policy that bans FBI agents from spying on Americans in their political meetings and churches. Not only were federal agents "freed" by Bush and his attack dog Ashcroft to violate the freedoms (assembly, speech, privacy) of any and all citizens, but they were encouraged to do so. This unleashing of the FBI was done in the name of combating foreign terrorists. The Bushites loudly scoffed at complaints that agents would also be used to spy on American citizens for political purposes having nothing to do with terrorism. While officials scoffed publicly, however, an internal FBI newsletter quietly encouraged agents to increase surveillance of antiwar groups, saying that there were "plenty of reasons" for doing so, "chief of which it will enhance the paranoia endemic in such circles and will further service to get the point across that there is an FBI agent behind every mailbox."

Likewise, in May of last year, the Homeland Security Department waded butt-deep into the murky waters of political suppression, issuing a terrorist advisory to local law enforcement agencies. It urged all police officials to keep a hawk-eyed watch on any homelanders who [Warning: Do not read the rest of this sentence if it will shock you to learn that there are people like this in your country!] have "expressed dislike of attitudes and decisions of the US government." MEMO TO TOM RIDGE, SECRETARY OF HSD: Sir, that's everyone. All 280 million of us, minus George Bush, you and the handful of others actually making the decisions. You've just branded every red-blooded American a terrorist. Maybe you should stick to playing with your color codes. Last November, Ashcroft weighed back in with new federal guidelines allowing the FBI to make what amount to pre-emptive spying assaults on people. Much like the nifty Bush-Rumsfeld doctrine of attacking countries to pre-empt the possibility that maybe, someday, some way, those countries might pose a threat to the United States, the Bush-Ashcroft doctrine allows government gumshoes to spy on citizens and noncitizens alike without any indication that the spied-upon people are doing anything illegal. The executive directive gives the FBI authority to collect "information on individuals, groups, and organizations of possible investigative interest." The language used by Ashcroft mouthpiece Mark Corallo to explain this directive is meant to be reassuring, but it is Orwell-level scary: What it means, says Corallo, is that agents "can do more research." "It emphasizes early intervention" and "allows them to be more proactive." Yeah, they get to do all that without opening a formal investigation (which sets limits on the snooping), much less bothering to get any court approval for their snooping. A proactive secret police is rarely a positive for people. With the FBI on the loose, other police powers now feel free to join in the all-season sport of intimidating people. In Austin, even the Army was caught snooping on us. At a small University of Texas conference in February to discuss Islam in Muslim countries, two Army officers were discovered to be posing as participants. The next week two agents from the Army Intelligence and Security Command appeared on campus demanding a list of participants and trying to grill Sahar Aziz, the conference organizer. Alarmed by these intimidating tactics, Aziz got the help of a lawyer, and the local newspaper ran a story. The Army quickly went away--but a spokeswoman for the intelligence command refused even to confirm that the agents had been on campus, much less discuss why the US Army is involved in domestic surveillance and intimidation. In California an antiwar group called Peace Fresno included in its ranks a nice young man named Aaron Stokes, who was always willing to be helpful. Unfortunately, Aaron died in a motorcycle wreck, and when his picture ran in the paper, Peace Fresno learned that he was really Aaron Kilner, a deputy with the sheriff's department. The sheriff said he could not discuss the specifics of Kilner's infiltration role, but that there was no formal investigation of Peace Fresno under way. He did insist, however, that there is potential for terrorism in Fresno County. "We believe that there is," the sheriff said ominously (and vaguely). "I'm not going to expand on it." If the authorities think there is terrorist potential in Fresno (probably not real high on Osama's target list), then there is potential everywhere, and under the Bush regime, this is plenty enough reason for any and all police agencies to launch secret campaigns to infiltrate, investigate and intimidate any and all people and groups with politics that they find even mildly suspicious...or distasteful.

The attitude of police authorities was summed up by Mike van Winkle, a spokesperson for the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center (another spinoff of the Homeland Security Department--your tax dollars at work). After peaceful antiwar protesters in Oakland were gassed and shot by local police, van Winkle [Note: I do not make up these names] explained the prevailing thinking of America's new, vast network of antiterrorist forces:

You can make an easy kind of link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that's being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that protest. You can almost argue that a protest against that is a terrorist act. I've heard terrorism described as anything that is violent or has an economic impact. Terrorism isn't just bombs going off and killing people.

03-13-2005, 03:54 PM

Freedom Of Speech... gone... Nazi Like Tactics, good.

Good Doctor HST
03-13-2005, 07:29 PM
All of the examples I'm about to list are from a sight called bend.com

For those of you that love freedom and civil rights and have a weak stomach, you may want to refrain from reading these:


Grieving Gold Star Mom Was Handcuffed At Laura Bush Event

A Gold Star Mom Woman, Who Lost Her Son In Iraq, Is Forcibly Removed From Bush-Cheney Event. Sue Niederer of Hopewell, NJ, a gold star mother, was handcufed and arrested for speaking out about the war in Iraq at a campaign event with Laura Bush. Niederer wore a t-shirt with the worlds “President Bush You Killed My Son” and brought a framed picture of him with her to the event. She interrupted Bush’s speech, demanding to know why her son, 24-year old Army First Lt. Seth Dvorin, had to die because of Bush’s misguided policy in Iraq. Secret service and local police handcuffed Niederer and detained her in the back of a police van. Laura Bush continued to speak, making many references to the September 11th attacks. “Too many people here had a loved one that went to work in New York that day," Bush said. "It's for our country, it's for our children, our grandchildren that we do the hard work of confronting terror." [AP, 9/16/04]

High School Students Threatened At Bush Campaign Event: “A Sniper” Could “Take Him Out”

John Sachs, an 18-year old high school senior went to see Bush in Clive, IA. Sachs got a ticket to the event from school and wanted to ask the president about whether there would be a draft, about the war in Iraq, Social Security and Medicare. At the event, a campaign staffer pulled Sachs aside and made him remove his button that read: ‘Bush-Cheney '04: Leave No Billionaire Behind.’ “The staffer quizzed him about whether he was a Bush supporter, asked him why he was there and what questions he would be asking the president. ‘Then he came back and said, 'If you protest, it won't be me taking you out. It will be a sniper,' Sachs said. ‘He said it in such a serious tone it scared the crap out of me.’” [Des Moines Register, 10/16/04]

Woman In West Virginia Was Fired For Protesting At Bush Event

FEMA Worker Was Lead Away In Handcuffs For Wearing Anti-Bush T-Shirt At A Presidential Visit, Then Ordered From Her Post In West Virginia. Nicole Rank and her husband were lead away in handcuffs during the President’s July 4th visit to Charleston, WV for wearing t-shirts that said, “Love America, Hate Bush.” The couple was ticketed, released and given summonses to appear in court. Rank, who was working in West Virginia for the Federal Emergency Management Association, was taken off her assignment and sent home by the federal coordinating office for FEMA. FEMA officials refused to say whether she had been fired from her job, but her husband later revealed that she had been fired. The event was billed as an official presidential visit and not a campaign stop, but Bush-Cheney campaign buttons were sold on the grounds of the Capitol. All those given access to the event had applied for tickets ahead of time, and were given a list of prohibited items that did not include political t-shirts, buttons or lapel pins. Those wearing pro-Bush t-shirts were left alone. [The Charleston Gazette, 7/9/04, 7/8/04]

Glen Hiller, a graphic designer, expressed his disagreement with President Bush at a Hedgesville High School rally. When he returned to work the next day at Octavo Designs, he was told he had embarrassed a client and was dismissed. “All I did was show up and voice my opinion,” Hiller said. [AP, 8/21/04]

Pro-Choice T-Shirt Grounds For Removal At Bush-Cheney Events

Family of Three Was Kicked Out Of Bush Event For Bringing A Pro-Choice T-Shirt. The Millers, a family of three - husband, wife and daughter – were removed from a Bush-Cheney campaign event because the wife, Barbara Miller, brought a pro-choice t-shirt with her. A campaign worker confiscated the t-shirt informing the family that “We don't accept any pro-choice, non-Republican paraphernalia.” The campaign worker returned an hour later with another worker and a security guard and accused the Millers of “smuggling t-shirts.” Barbara Miller, who brought the t-shirt because she was cold and had not considered the implications of its pro-choice logo, reports that a guard grabbed their three tickets from her hand and ripped them up “violently and told her, ‘They’re no good anymore.’” A Bush campaign spokeswoman, Jennifer Millerwise, defended the right of the campaign to ask individuals who intend to “disrupt campaign events” to leave. "These events are put on .. for people of an open mind who are interested in hearing positive message and his vision for a future," she said. Theresa Miller, the daughter, said that was what she was there to do. “I'm not an American? I can't see my president?” she asked. [Saginaw News, 8/6/04]

Teachers Who Believe In Civil Liberties Are Kicked Out of Bush Event
School Teachers Are Threatened With Arrest For Wearing “Protect Our Civil Liberties.”


In Medford, OR, three school teachers “were threatened with arrest and escorted from the event after they showed up wearing T-shirts with the slogan ‘Protect our civil liberties.’ All three said they applied for and received valid tickets from Republican headquarters in Medford,” the Associated Press reported. “The women said they did not intend to protest. “I wanted to see if I would be able to make a statement that I feel is important, but not offensive, in a rally for my president," said Janet Voorhies, 48, a teacher in training. “We chose this phrase specifically because we didn't think it would be offensive or degrading or obscene," said Tania Tong, 34, a special education teacher.” Republican officials attempted to distance themselves from the event. A Bush campaign spokesman, Tracey Schmitt, said: “It is not the position of the campaign that wearing a T-shirt that says protect civil liberties is enough to conclude someone is disruptive.” [AP, 10/14/04; Oregonian, 10/16/04]

Woman In Alabama Fired For Bush Sticker On Car

Alabama woman lost job for sporting Kerry sticker on car. Lynne Gobbell, of Moulton, AL, lost her job after her boss demanded she remove the Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker from her car. “The manager told her to go back to work, but he came back a few minutes later and said, 'I reckon you're fired. You could either work for him or John Kerry,' Gobbell said.” ‘It upset me and made me mad that he could put a letter in my check expressing his (political) opinion, but I can't put something on my car expressing mine.’ ” [Decatur Daily News, 9/12/04; AP, 9/15/04]

Man in Maryland Fired For Hosting Pro-Kerry Message Board

An alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention forced out of job for support of Kerry. Ono Ekeh was dismissed from his position at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for organization’s computers in moderating a ‘Catholics for Kerry’ message board. He made 31 of the message board’s 401 posts between late August 2003 and February 2004. “U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops spokesman Bill Ryan said the organization would not fire anyone merely for supporting a particular political candidate, but declined to comment on the Ekeh matter.” [Capital News Service, 7/23/04; Knight Rider, 7/30/04]

College Newspapers Denied Access To Bush Campaign Appearance

College Newspapers’ Reporters And Photographers Told That They Should Be In School Instead Of Trying To Report About Presidential Visit. Reporters and photographers from the Des Moines Area Community College [DMACC] and Iowa State University newspapers were denied access to see the President in Des Moines. The students were not included on the list of approved media when they arrived, despite faxing their request for credentials well ahead of the event’s press deadline. Mike Allsup, a student reporter from the DMACC Chronicle, said that the “White House advance staff told him his time would be better spent in school. ‘It really is not fair that we represent 14,000 students at my college and I’m disregarded and sent away.’” “A news crew from WQAD television in Moline, IL was not on the approved media list but allowed into the event,” alleged Iowa State Daily photography editor Eric Rowley. [Des Moines Register, 4/16/04]


Seating For Republicans Only: Minnesota
Campaign Staff Prevent Democrats And Independents From Attending July 13th Bush-Cheney Rally In Duluth, MN. Bush-Cheney campaign staff, trying to ensure a friendly crowd for Bush’s rally in Duluth, would not hand out tickets to Democrats or Independents, if they admitted that they weren’t sure they were voting for Bush. Many residents were angered that only Republicans would be given the opportunity to attend the Bush-Cheney rally. A Duluth resident, Jan Witte, questioned who Bush really represented “He’s my president too… I just thought I should be able to hear him speak.” [AP, 7/10/04]

Tim Walz, a 23 year National Guard veteran wanted to hear his commander-in-chief. He was allowed into the quarry event after the two young men he was escorting were told to leave the event because one of the young men had a Kerry sticker in his wallet. When Walz objected he was first told to leave as well. Then, a Bush official asked if he supported the President. When he said he did not, the Bush official told him he had to leave as well and he was threatened with arrest. When he informed the official that he had just returned from overseas, the official begrudgingly allowed him to stay with the admonition that the Secret Service would be watching him. [Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, 8/13/04]

Two young high school students turned away from Bush rally in Mankato, Minnesota. The young men were denied tickets for making unfavorable comments while waiting in line for three hours. They were then given tickets, but when they got off the shuttle bus at the event, they were denied entry. A Mankato West High School teacher who defended the boys was also prevented from going in and threatened with arrest upon being ordered to leave. [Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, 8/13/04]

Seating for Republicans Only: Michigan
A school teacher's ticket is torn up and she is barred from entry into Bush event for wearing Kerry-Edwards sticker on blouse. “But Ralph Soffredine, a Traverse City commissioner, school board member and former police chief who worked security at the front gate, said it is part of the Bush campaign policy.” The fifty-five year old wanted the experience of seeing a president and hearing him speak, but instead left wondering this is truly a democracy. [Traverse City Record-Eagle, 8/17/04]

“if you are an undecided voter or an independent, you might have to make the case that you are willing to support Bush.” The Ottawa County Republicans handed out tickets after first asking for ID and if people were Republicans or open to the President’s ideas. [The Grand Rapids Press, 9/11/04]

Seating for Republicans Only: Wisconsin
Wisconsin elected official ejected from Bush event. Outagamie County Supervisor Jayson Nelson was removed from the VIP list for the event for ‘inappropriate attire’. He had a Kerry t-shirt fully hidden under his button down shirt. He was ordered out of line and told to take off his outer shirt revealing the Kerry t-shirt. At that point a female election worker called police over, exclaiming “Look at his shirt! Look at his shirt!” The police told him he must leave and directed him to the Secret Service. The Secret Service informed him he had broken no laws, that the same would happen at a Kerry event and that he still must leave. [The Post Crescent, 7/18/04]

Seating For Republicans Only: Iowa
A World War Two Veteran Didn’t Qualify To Hear The President. Bill Ward, a veteran of World War II, got into line at 7:30 am to get tickets to see Bush in Dubuque, IA. He waited in line for an hour, and when it finally came time to show his identification campaign staff asked him if he had voted for Bush in 2000. “I didn’t vote for him then and I won’t vote for him now,” declared Ward. Ward identified himself to the campaign workers as a World War II vet who served in France and Germany. Critical of the war in Iraq, Ward said, “The only thing I wanted to do was get down to the riverfront and ask Bush some questions.” Ward recalled, “They asked some girl to escort me out and I told them I don’t need to be escorted out. I’m a veteran of World War II.” [Telegraph Herald, 5/4/04]

19-Year Old Political Science Major Need Not Apply. Matt Trewartha, a 19-year old political science major was excited to see hear the President during his campaign stop in Dubuque, IA. However, after waiting in line for more than an hour, Matt was turned away empty handed. He writes in an editorial in the Telegraph Herald, “When I finally reached the [campaign] office, I was pulled aside by a campaign official and told that I would not be given the four tickets that I desired because of a comment I had made in line about not being a Republican. After a lengthy discussion and my promise to be respectful, I was turned away empty handed. I though this was a public event with the community as the guest, but the man told me that they were selecting the guests.” [Opinion, Telegraph Herald, 5/11/04]

Seating For Republicans Only: Nevada
Campaign Staff Rips Up The Tickets Of Three Teenagers. In Reno, Nevada, Bush’s campaign workers stalked the line of attendees to a Bush rally to ensure that only his supporters were allowed inside. “Three Reno teenagers had tickets pulled out of their hands and ripped to pieces by a campaign staff member after someone in line pointed out an anti-Bush sticker on one of the teens’ shirts.” 17-year old Jonathan Daniel tried to assure staff that he wouldn’t make trouble and only wanted to hear the president on the issues. The campaign would not be swayed. Daniel protested, “I believe it’s my right as an American to hear where he is leading our country.” [Reno Gazette-Journal, 6/19/04]

Seating For Republicans Only: Arizona
Bush Spokesman Says Woman Should “Come To Her Senses” and Support Bush If She Wants To See Him. Sue Walitsky, communications director for the Kerry-Edwards campaign in Arizona, had a valid ticket to see Bush speak at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, AZ, but the Bush-Cheney campaign refused her admittance with no explanation. Walitsky said that she wore no Kerry button and did not bring any Kerry campaign chum that would have upset Bush supporters. Danny Diaz, a spokesman for the Bush campaign said, “If she’s willing to come to her senses and support him, we’ll be happy to welcome her in.” Walitsky said that the Kerry campaign allows everyone with valid tickets, regardless of political affiliation, to attend Kerry campaign events. [Arizona Republic, 8/11/04]