Monday, November 10, 2003

Toledo, Ohio – The Front Line of Patriotism!

As reported in The Blade on Friday, November 7, 2003:

Two Toledo councilmen and a small group of citizens holding a banner were kicked out of Government Center yesterday while holding a news conference raising questions about the USA Patriot Act.

An Ohio Highway Patrol trooper held Councilman Pete Gerken’s elbow as he escorted him to the front exit of the building.

Also ordered to leave was Councilman Frank Szollosi and the group called Citizens for Individual Rights and Freedoms, whose members unfurled a banner criticizing the USA Patriot Act as “unpatriotic.”

Mr. Gerken and Mr. Szollosi are co-sponsors of a council resolution condemning the Patriot Act. The law, enacted after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, broadens federal investigative powers. Critics have said it gives investigators too much power to snoop on law-abiding citizens.

Griff Allan, the second shift security supervisor, later told Mr. Gerken the reason he was removed was because a banner had been unfurled.

Building Manager Michael L. Sullivan also cited the banner as well as the topic as inappropriate for inside a public place.

“If they had been inside council chambers or outside the building, nothing would have happened,” Mr. Sullivan said. “This is a public area. To avoid offending anyone, we say you can’t do it in a public area.”

Short Version: It’s okay to protest…just don’t do it where anybody can see it.

Update: Now the ejected officials are threatening a lawsuit. Proof once again that nothing settles a disagreement like a subpeona.