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Monday, October 18, 2004

Three teachers evicted from Bush event for wearing "Protect Our Civil Liberties" t-shirts

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.

Three schoolteachers were evicted from a Bush event and threatened with arrest Oct. 14 for wearing "Protect Our Civil Liberties" t-shirts, the Progressive reports.

"The U.S. Constitution was not available on site for comment, but expressed in a written statement support for “the freedom of speech” and “of the press” among other civil liberties," a Democratic news release said, according to Bend.com.

Bend.com reported:
Thursday’s actions in Oregon set a new standard even for Bush/Cheney – removing and threatening with arrest citizens who in no way disrupt an event and wear clothing that expresses non-disruptive party-neutral viewpoints such as “Protect Our Civil Liberties.”

When Vice President Dick Cheney visited Eugene, Oregon on Sept. 17, a 54-Year old woman named Perry Patterson was charged with criminal trespass for blurting the word "No" when Cheney said that George W. Bush has made the world safer.

One day before, Sue Niederer, 55, the mother of a slain American soldier in Iraq was cuffed and arrested for criminal trespass when she interrupted a Laura Bush speech in New Jersey. Both women had tickets to the event.

Here is a partial account of what transpired in Oregon Thursday, as told to the Progressive:
The campaign officials said they could go in if they could guarantee they would not make a scene, [Tania] Tong says. "We assured them that we did not come with any intention of being disorderly, so they said fine and said they respected our differing opinions," she recalls.

At that point, the three teachers assumed they were in, and that they could take their seats and listen to the President.

No such luck.

"As we were walking over to sit down, a woman grabbed me by the arm from the back and grabbed my shirt," Tong says. "She said she would have to look under my shirt for offensive language. I told her she wouldn't find any there. She still looked. Then we walked about two more steps and a man came up and asked to see our IDs again and then made a comment abut my sister living in Ashland. But he gave us our IDs back, and we proceeded to sit down."

Campaign officials did not leave the three alone, however. They followed them to their seats, and when Janet Voorhies got up to go to the bathroom, she was tailed, Tong and [Candice] Julian say.

When Voorhies did not return promptly, they became concerned and got up to see what was going on.

"A guy had Janet by the elbow and was leading her away," says Julian.

"And he said to us, 'Give us your tickets.' "

"We said, 'Why?' And I put the ticket behind my back, and one of the guys who had been following us ripped it out of my hands."

Seeing what happened to her sister's ticket, Tong put hers down her pants, she says.

Campaign officials then told all three women to leave.

"They said it was a private event, for invited guests," Tong recalls.

"We said we were invited because we were given tickets.

"One said, 'You don't have tickets anymore.'

Full story here.


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