ACLU Sues Over Security for Bush Protest
Thursday 06 July 2006
Medford, Ore. - The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging the U.S. Secret Service and state and local police protecting President Bush during a 2004 campaign appearance discriminated against protesters when they cleared the streets outside where the president was eating dinner.
The class-action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court contends that police acting on orders from the Secret Service used unreasonable force to move some 200 people peacefully protesting against the Iraq war in Jacksonville while allowing pro-Bush demonstrators to remain standing on sidewalks.
"Our primary motive is to prevent this kind of activity from happening again in the future," said David Fidanque, executive director of the Oregon ACLU.
On Oct. 16, 2004, President Bush made a campaign speech at the Jackson County fairgrounds and later had dinner on the patio of the Jacksonville Inn within earshot of protesters before spending the night at an inn cottage.
Protest organizer Shelley Elkovich said they took pains to talk to police to be sure the atmosphere would be safe and were told that everyone would be fine if they stayed on the sidewalks. Demonstrators told the ACLU that about 40 police officers in riot gear moved them away from the inn.
Jacksonville Police Chief David Towe's testimony in a criminal case against two demonstrators that police moved under orders from the Secret Service gave them the evidence they needed to file the lawsuit, Temple said.
Spokesmen for the Secret Service, state police and the town of Jacksonville said they would have no comment on pending litigation.
The plaintiffs are seven protesters and the Jackson County Pacific Green Party.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction barring the Secret Service and police from discriminating against protesters in the future. It also seeks unspecified compensatory damages for demonstrators who were injured, and punitive damages for those who were denied their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly.