I support the troops, but the police chief is an "idiot"

Police apologize for arresting Sheehan and ousting a congressman's wife for wearing T-shirts to Bush's speech.

Published February 2, 2006 2:17PM (EST)

The chief of the Capitol Police now admits that his officers were wrong to arrest Cindy Sheehan and evict the wife of a Republican congressman for wearing printed T-shirts to the president's State of the Union address this week. "It was a good-faith mistake by officers operating under poor direction," Chief Terrance Gainer tells the Washington Post.

Sheehan was arrested before the speech began for wearing a T-shirt that said "2245 Dead. How Many More?" Beverly Young, the wife of Florida Rep. C.W. Bill Young, was asked to leave the House chamber 45 minutes into the speech because she was wearing a T-shirt that said "Support the Troops Defending Our Freedom."

Sheehan responded to her arrest by invoking the First Amendment. Beverly Young responded to her ouster by calling the police chief an "idiot."

Young's congressman husband, meanwhile, responded to it all by calling Karl Rove and then by making public statements suggesting that he understands the meaning of that whole right-to-free-speech thing about as well as the cops who ousted the two women did. According to the Post, Young said that he wouldn't have minded if the police had limited their attention to Sheehan. "I totally disagree with everything she stands for," he said. But by asking his wife to leave the House chamber, Young said, police clearly "acted precipitously."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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