"I told the officers that I was already in a free-speech zone -- called the United States of America,"
COLUMBIA [South Carolina] - A '60s campus radical is fighting the federal government's attempt to prosecute him for entering a restricted area during President Bush's visit to Columbia Oct. 24.
Accompanied by three other people, Brett Bursey was holding a sign that read "No Blood for Oil" as he stood across the street from a hangar at the Columbia airport. Bush was to address about 4,400 supporters at a Republican rally there.
Shortly before Air Force One landed, airport police, acting on instructions from the Secret Service, told Bursey and the others that they would have to move to a "free speech zone" about a half-mile away.
"I told the officers that I was already in a free-speech zone -- called the United States of America," Bursey said later. He said that people across the street holding signs supporting GOP candidates weren't told to move.
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"The government's purported justification is something that we would all agree is good -- to protect the safety and security of the president," said professor Andy Siegel. "However, I think that Bursey is very much getting at the heart of what this law has become -- the stage-managing of political events."
[11 US Congressmen (including 1 Republican) have written to Ashcroft to protest this arrest. A similar case in Pennsylvannia was thrown out of court. This is the first test case in the South.]