Monday, August 02, 2004


Jim Hightower
August 2, 2004

What do Kalamazoo, Evansville, Albuquerque, Stockton, Trenton, Phoenix, Columbia, St. Louis, Knoxville, and Charleston have in common?

All are among the cities where the secret service or police have jailed people for displaying anti-Bush signs during public appearances by his eminence, King George the W. Is this America, The Land of the Free?

That's what Nicole and Jeff Rank asked themselves this July 4th as they were taken away in handcuffs by police in their town of Charleston, West Virginia. What was their heinous crime? They were guilty of not being Bush supporters.

George W's Independence Day trip to Charleston was billed as an official presidential visit, not a campaign rally. Nicole and Jeff––two patriotic, hardworking, taxpaying Americans––were in the crowd, quietly exercising their free-speech rights. They wore T-shirts declaring: "Love America, Hate Bush."

They had proper tickets to the event, they proudly sang the National Anthem with everyone else, they were in no way disorderly––but they were not politically correct, so they were summarily arrested, taken to jail, finger printed...and charged with "trespassing." Others who were there wearing pro-Bush T-shirts and Bush campaign paraphernalia at this public event on public property were not arrested. It seems that the Bushites define "trespassers" by their political beliefs.

Nicole, who worked for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Charleston, was promptly told that her services were no longer required. Technically, she wasn't fired, but she was "released" from her job and not reassigned––meaning she no longer gets paid.

But Nicole and Jeff are still not bowing to King George. Despite the financial hardship, they're fighting Bush's absurd, un-American assault on their constitutional right to dissent. They're not the only ones being denied their right to speak out––dissenters all across America are being treated like this. To fight this autocratic lockdown, call the ACLU: 212-549-2500.

Sources: "We weren't doing anything wrong." By Tara Tuckwiller, The Charelston Gazette, July 14, 2004.