Bush team tries to silence protesters, lawsuit says
Lawsuit: White House has formal policy to keep dissenters awayDENVER (AP) – A manual used by President Bush’s advance team for his appearances across the country suggests ways to keep protesters from events by using volunteers near metal detectors to stop would-be demonstrators from entering, according to a lawsuit by people kicked out of Bush events.The suit was filed in federal court Thursday in Washington by the American Civil Liberties Union for Leslie Weise and Alex Young of Denver and for two people removed from a Bush appearance in West Virginia.Both claim the White House had a formal policy of trying to hide dissenters from the press and the president.The lawsuit cites a White House “Presidential Advance Manual” that was made public in a separate civil suit filed in Charleston, W.V., federal court in the West Virginia case.A heavily redacted copy of the manual suggests ways to keep protesters from attending appearances by the president and ways to counteract them if they do get in, including using volunteers stationed near metal detectors to keep demonstrators out.”Proper ticket distribution is vital to creating a well-balanced crowd and deterring potential protesters from attending events,” it says.It also suggests using Young Republicans, fraternities, sororities and athletic teams to form “rally squads” to “spread favorable messages using large hand-held signs” or chants of “USA!, USA!, USA!” to “drown out the protesters.”The manual, combined with the exclusion of people who had not caused a disruption, “suggests there is a formal, official policy of trying to keep hidden from the press and the president anyone who disagrees with the president,” ACLU attorney Chris Hansen told the Rocky Mountain News in Friday’s editions. ACLU officials did not return messages left by The Associated Press.White House spokeswoman, Nicole Guillemard, declined comment citing pending litigation.In a lawsuit filed in March in Denver federal District Court, they said they were ejected from a March 21, 2005, taxpayer-funded event in Denver just before Bush was to talk about his plans for Social Security.Weise and Young had arrived in a car with a bumper sticker reading “No blood for oil” and said they believed that’s why they were singled out. They were wearing T-shirts saying “Stop the lies” under their clothes but did not show them. They have said they had no plans to disrupt the event, but Young hoped to ask Bush a question if given the opportunity.In the West Virginia case, Nicole and Jeffery Rank of Corpus Christi, Texas, were arrested and charged with trespassing after they refused to cover up homemade T-shirts that said, “Love America, Hate Bush” when the president appeared at rally at the state Capitol in Charleston in 2004.The charges were later dropped after it was determined the city’s trespassing law did not apply to the Capitol Complex. Charleston City Council later passed a resolution apologizing to the couple.
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