The Bush police state
"If this were a dictatorship it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."
-George W. Bush
The Washington Post reports:
"As Bush has traveled the United States during this political campaign, the Secret Service and local police have often handled public protest by quickly arresting or removing demonstrators, free-speech advocates say. In addition, access to Bush's events has been unusually tightly controlled and people who do not support Bush's reelection have been removed.
Although it's impossible to precisely measure the tactics in comparison with previous campaigns, civil liberties advocates and other experts say the treatment of dissenters is harsher this year. Several dozen protest-related arrests have been reported in recent months, in addition to the 1,800 made outside the Republican National Convention in New York, and the American Civil Liberties Union says that scores of other people have been evicted or denied entry to Bush campaign events...
Alex Vitale, a sociology professor at Brooklyn College who studies police behavior at political protests, argues that the United States has not seen such tactics during protests since the Vietnam War era.
'This seems to be on a new level from what we've seen from past administrations,' Vitale said. 'It's clear that some of these security zones are not based on legitimate security concerns. They are based on the idea of the president not seeing someone who disagrees with him, which basically undermines the whole idea of the First Amendment.'
Tickets to Bush events, distributed by the Republican Party, go only to those who volunteer or donate to the party or, in some cases, sign an endorsement of the GOP ticket and provide names and addresses. Party workers police the crowds for signs of Kerry supporters, who are frequently evicted...
The Kerry campaign says it does not limit attendance based on political views, a point Kerry has made frequently when confronted by hecklers on the campaign trail. 'We don't base entry to our events on political affiliation,' said Kerry spokesman Phil Singer...
In September, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq was arrested at a rally for first lady Laura Bush in Hamilton Township, N.J.; she was wearing a T-shirt that said 'President Bush you killed my son.' The charges were later dropped.
Full story here.