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What Really Happened
by Cindy Sheehan
The following was written by Ms. Sheehan shortly after the President’s 2006 State of the Union Address.
Dear Friends: As most of you have probably heard, I was arrested before the State of the Union Address tonight. I am speechless with fury at what happened and with grief over what we have lost in our country.
There have been lies from the police and distortions by the press, so this is what really happened:
This afternoon, at the People’s State of the Union Address in DC, where I was joined by Congresspersons Lynn Woolsey and John Conyers, Ann Wright, Malik Rahim and John Cavanagh, Lynn brought me a ticket to the State of the Union Address. At that time, I was wearing the shirt that said: “2,245 Dead. How many more?”
After the PSOTU press conference, I was having second thoughts about going to the SOTU at the Capitol. I didn’t feel comfortable going. I knew George Bush would say things that would hurt me and anger me; I knew that I couldn’t disrupt the address because Lynn had given me the ticket and I didn’t want to be disruptive out of respect for her. I, in fact, had given the ticket to John Bruhns, who is in Iraq Veterans Against the War.
However, Lynn’s office had already called the media and everyone knew I was going to be there so I sucked it up and went.
I got the ticket back from John and met one of Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s staffers in the Longworth Congressional Office building and we went to the Capitol via the underground tunnel. I went through security once, then had to use the rest room and went through security again.
My ticket was in the fifth gallery, front row, fourth seat in. The person who in a few minutes was to arrest me helped me to my seat.
I had just sat down and I was warm from climbing three flights of stairs from the bathroom, so I unzipped my jacket. I turned to the right to take my left arm out, when the same officer saw my shirt and yelled, “Protester!” He then ran over to me, hauled me out of my seat and roughly (with my hands behind my back) shoved me up the stairs. I said something like, “I’m going, do you have to be so rough?” By the way, his name is Mike Weight.
I have lost my son. I have lost my First Amendment rights. I have lost the country that I love. Where did America go?
The officer ran with me to the elevators yelling at everyone to move out of the way. When we got to the elevators, he cuffed me and took me outside to await a squad car. On the way out, someone behind me said, “That’s Cindy Sheehan,” at which point the officer who arrested me said, “Take these steps slowly.” I said, “You didn’t care about being careful when you were dragging me up the other steps.” He said, “That’s because you were protesting.” Wow, I get hauled out of the People’s House because I was “Protesting.”
I was never told that I couldn’t wear that shirt into the Congress. I was never asked to take it off or zip my jacket back up. If I had been asked to do any of those things, I would have—and written about the suppression of my freedom of speech later. I was immediately, and roughly (I have the bruises and muscle spasms to prove it) hauled off and arrested for “unlawful conduct.”
After I had my personal items inventoried and my fingers printed, a nice sergeant came in and looked at my shirt and said, “2,245, huh? I just got back from there.”
I told him that my son died there. That’s when the enormity of my loss hit me. I have lost my son. I have lost my First Amendment rights. I have lost the country that I love. Where did America go? I started crying in pain.
What did Casey die for? What did the 2,244 other brave young Americans die for? What are tens of thousands of them over there in harm’s way for still? For this? I can’t even wear a shirt that has the number of troops on it that George Bush and his arrogant and ignorant policies are responsible for killing.
I wore the shirt to make a statement. The press knew I was going to be there and I thought every once in a while they would show me and I would have the shirt on. I did not wear it to be disruptive, or I would have unzipped my jacket during George’s speech. If I had had any idea what happens to people who wear shirts that make the neocons uncomfortable, that I would be arrested, maybe I would have, but I didn’t.
I have some lawyers looking into filing a First Amendment lawsuit against the government for what happened tonight. I will file it. It is time to take our freedoms and our country back.
I don’t want to live in a country that prohibits any person from wearing, saying, writing, or telephoning any negative statements about the government.
That’s why I am going to take my freedoms and liberties back. That’s why I am not going to let Bushco take anything else away from me—or you.
I am so appreciative of the couple of hundred protesters who came to the jail while I was locked up to show their support. We have so much potential for good; there is so much good in so many people.
Four hours and two jails after I was arrested, I was let out. Again, I am so upset and sore it is hard to think straight.
Keep up the struggle. I promise you, I will too.
Love and peace soon, Cindy
Cindy Sheehan is an outspoken critic of the War in Iraq and cause célčbre of the Anti-War Movement. Her son, US Army Specialist Casey Sheehan, was killed in action in Iraq on April 4, 2004.
[29 apr 06]