Citizens for Legitimate Government, a multi-partisan activist group established to expose the Bush Coup d'Etat and oppose the Bush occupation in all of its manifestations.

 

Violation of U.S. Constitutional Rights --by Donna (Report of Cheney protest in Estero, Florida, October 31, 2003)

According to the First Amendment to the Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

No matter what side of the debate you may be on regarding support of or opposition to, the current administration, please be alerted to the fact that what I witnessed is not democracy.

Yesterday, Oct. 31, my son and I participated in a protest during Vice President [sic] Cheney's visit to Estero, FL. at the corner of S-41 and Coconut Road. The protesters numbered less than 30 people; 1/3 of whom were elderly. The organizers of the protest had obtained all necessary permits from the county, as well as gaining clearance from the Secret Service. The gathering was entirely peaceful, and the only action anyone took was to hold up their signs. Even when people in passing vehicles shouted abuse at the protesters, no one responded in kind.

At approximately 5:45 EDT, our small group was suddenly converged upon by approximately 30 officers from Lee and Collier Counties. We were ordered out of the area, and threatened with arrest if we did not immediately comply. In fact, they confronted one elderly gentleman, a retired Navy Admiral, and pushed him into a Lee County Sheriff's patrol car.

We questioned their right to evict us from public property (we were on County easement), and stated our First Amendment rights. Within 10 minutes or so, another police officer (in charge) told us we could stay on the south side of the road, way back off the road, but if we moved down to the road, we would be arrested. During this confrontation and intimidation, we believe Cheney's caravan may have passed us and proceeded to the Hotel at the end of the street.

Such an exercise of power by authorities, threatening and intimidating peacefully assembled Americans, should NOT be accepted by anyone who believes in the Constitution of the United States and democracy.

A quote from Samuel Adams (signer of the Declaration of Independence): "The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men."

Addendum:

The media coverage here was very incomplete... and none of the press were around when we were "attacked" by the police. They did show up a little while later and interviewed a few folks, but none of it was covered in today's papers. One of our local news TV channels (Channel 5, WINK) stated that "some of the protesters claimed that they had been given a 'hard time' by Lee County Deputies; a spokesman from the Lee County Sheriff's office stated that they were 'simply dealing with issues around security for VP [sic] Cheney's visit and sometimes public property isn't public."

This is a very Republican area... and the press reflects that as well. Though I do have to give kudos to the young reporter who did manage to get anything on the air about the confrontation.

November 1, 2003

 

  

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