April 23, 2005
On March 22, President Bush was holding a townhall meeting at the Wings Over the Rockies Museum in Denver.
Alex Young, 25, Karen Bauer, 38, and Leslie Weise, 39, all had tickets to the event, which they obtained through the proper channels. (They got them from the office of Republican Representative Bob Beauprez.)
But they weren't allowed to see the President.
When Bauer and Weise approached the metal detector, "a man checked the women's drivers' licenses against a paper, then asked them to stand aside," the Rocky Mountain News reported. Another man, "dressed in a dark suit, with an earpiece and a red lapel pin," approached Bauer. "You two have been ID'd, and if you have any ill intention, you will be arrested," he said, according to the paper.
The man let them in, but before the President arrived, he returned and ordered all three to leave, grabbing one of them by the arm.
"We were forcibly removed," they told the blog Daily Kos. "We were shocked."
The following week, the three, along with their attorney, Dan Recht, met with the Secret Service in Denver to discuss what happened.
"The Secret Service revealed that we were "ID'd" when local Republican staffers saw a bumpersticker on the car we drove which said "No More Blood for Oil," they told Daily Kos.
It turns out that Young, Bauer, and Weise, members of a group called Denver Progressives, had T-shirts hidden under their top shirts that said, "Stop the Lies." And they had considered revealing those shirts during Bush's speech, though they said they had second thoughts about that.
In any event, they weren't given the opportunity.
Attorney Recht told The Progressive that when they met with Ron Garner, the head of the Denver Secret Service office, Garner said it was not the Secret Service that forced the three to leave but a Republican staff person. Garner "specifically told us that the only reason this happened was because of the bumpersticker," Recht said.
"It's an outrageous violation of their First Amendment rights," Recht said. "They were literally being punished for their political speech. To be excluded from being able to hear and see your President because of a statement on a bumpersticker just reeks of totalitarian regimes in other parts of the world."
Recht vows to take legal action.
"I anticipate suing, frankly," he says. "We don't quite know who to sue. But we're going to find out, and we're going to sue that person, or the person who trained him, or who paid him, or who told him what to do."