Prosecutors Drop Charges Against Bush Abu Ghraib Protesters
October 16, 2004
On July 9 in Smoketown, Pennsylvania, just as the Bush campaign was coming through, six protesters stripped down to their thongs and formed a human pyramid like the one in the infamous Abu Ghraib photo. They were arrested for disorderly conduct. (See McCarthyism Watch, July 23, 2004.)
On October 15, the district attorney dropped all charges, according to a statement from the ACLU.
DA Donald Totaro said the protesters' actions were protected under the First Amendment. Prosecutors, he said, "must follow and uphold the laws of Pennsylvania and of this nation."
"We are happy that the District Attorney recognized that these men were wrongfully arrested," said ACLU of Pennsylvania Staff Attorney Paula Knudsen, who was representing one of the defendants, Tristan Egolf. "We hope that local law enforcement will respect the constitutional rights of all protesters in the future and not be so quick to arrest those who may display an unpopular political opinion."
Attorney Mike Winters of Lancaster represented another defendant, Russell Willard. Said Winters: "People in Lancaster County and across this country should never have to be concerned that expressing their political views--whatever those views may be--will result in their being handcuffed, taken away by the police, and charged with a crime which could result in a jail sentence of up to 90 days."