Police Apologize to Cindy Sheehan


When Cindy Sheehan was arrested at the State of the Union address Tuesday night, there was some confusion about the charges, with some reports saying she had merely worn an antiwar T-shirt and others declaring she had intended to break Capitol rules by unfurling a sign. In case you're wondering which it was: She wore a T-shirt. And in case you're wondering whether there's a law against that: No, there isn't.

AP reports:

Capitol Police dropped a charge of unlawful conduct against anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan on Wednesday and apologized for ejecting her and a congressman's wife from President Bush's State of the Union address for wearing T-shirts with war messages.

"The officers made a good faith, but mistaken effort to enforce an old unwritten interpretation of the prohibitions about demonstrating in the Capitol," Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer said in a statement late Wednesday.

The ejected wife was Beverly Young, spouse of Florida Republican Bill Young. She was expelled but not arrested for wearing a shirt that said "Support the Troops—Defending Our Freedom."

NEXT: A tradition of a century and a half comes to a stop STOP

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. In other words, she was detained on suspiction of sedition.

  2. Way to go, Capitol Cops. Way. To. Go.

  3. Indiscriminate use of a taser would have made the story funnier.

  4. I’ve ranted about this on another tread (yes, t, I’m being pedantic 🙂

    The state of the union is a formal event. Duh. Broads who wear t-shirts (Sheehan) and sweatshirts (Young) should be thrown out just for that. The nearest 7-11 is a quick metro ride away, dolls. Go get yourself a Big Gulp and a burrito.

  5. Broads who wear t-shirts (Sheehan) and sweatshirts (Young) should be thrown out just for that.

    So they’re not the Capitol Police, they’re the Fashion Police?

  6. Since the Capitol is not a public forum, and especially since the SOTU is an invitation-only event, a dress code would not have been a First Amendment violation.

    The problem is that there is no such dress code. People are simply expected not to be jackasses. So, as a matter of law, the Sheehan apologists are correct.

    That will hopefully change by the next SOTU.

  7. Mr. Nice Guy

    So I guess there really is a fashion police, huh?

    Of course, people are usually asked to leave for breaking dress code voliations, not arrested.

  8. No more shirtless men on in the blogads! Woohoo! I’m seriously considering a subscription to Reason for this. (Seriously.)

  9. Mr Nice Guy –

    Ok, T-Shirts are a form of speech i guess, And ‘formal events’ are understood as being restricted areas of speech? I dont disagree.

    But, come on. what the fuck? If this is what cops are spending their time caring about, can we also make sure to remove all ‘i’m more american than you’ lapel pins before appearing in ‘formal’ contexts, and can we also force people to wear Red&Blue striped ties so they offer no suggestion of indication to any party or create subliminal suggestion of ‘openness’ or ‘toughness’ to tv viewers?

    meaning, shouldnt this not rise to the level of something anyone should give a shit about? Let weepy mom wear her Tshirt. What, she’s going to influence the back of some congressman? How controversial.


  10. Kip, you hope that changes? Shit, the SOTU Address is a big goddamned farce. I say we return to TJ’s ideals: have Dub write a letter to Congress. Skip all the fanfare horseshit. I have no respect for the office of the president, and no respect for this big circus that means absolutely nothing except for a temporary defibrillator on Bush’s poll numbers.

    In order to facilitate the SOTU being shamed out of existence, I say, fuck it. Wear jeans and a tee-shirt. Wear a fuckin’ nightgown. Show up in boxers and a wife-beater.

  11. Coarsetad: yeah, wear an anti-war shirt, get arrested. Wear a “support our troops” shirt, and get escorted out. There’s your difference.

  12. I say we return to TJ’s ideals: have Dub write a letter to Congress. Skip all the fanfare horseshit.


  13. Were I ever invited to the SOTU, I’d go naked.

  14. Good thing cindy was not a veteran of the Iraq War, or the cops might have shot her, like they did that feller the other day.

  15. “My parents went to the State of the Union address and all I got was this crummy t-shirt.”

  16. …so if a government agent physically assaults a citizen, kidnaps her, files false & malicious charges against her —

    …. all that is required is a routine “apology” from a government pubic relations bureaucrat to legally erase those crimes ???

    Criminal charges are in order … to discourage such criminal behavior in the future. But of course, today, some sectors of American society are above the law.

  17. A-f%^king-men.

    One more thing to hold against Woodrow Wilson.

  18. “Since the Capitol is not a public forum, and especially since the SOTU is an invitation-only event, a dress code would not have been a First Amendment violation.”

    So a stylish designer evening gown with a message in sequins would definitly be in order. It might even be a fashion trend for the Hollywood elite, et al.

  19. Tempest in a t-shirt!

  20. Criminal charges are in order … to discourage such criminal behavior in the future.

    Well, when they shoot an unarmed person they get a paid vacation. By that standard, this would probably merit that officer getting a free latte.

  21. In order to facilitate the SOTU being shamed out of existence

    You mean pre-empting must-see-TV isn’t shame enough?

  22. I don’t care about Sheehan or Young’s ejection, but this does raise an interesting issue: What if the shirt-wearer in question had been a Congressmen or Supreme Court Justice? The former in particular has pretty strong rights in that chamber.

  23. Anybody who’s dealt with the Capitol Police will have no trouble believing that they were acting without authority, in an arbitrary manner, while using too much force.

    No trouble at all. Jerks.

  24. Yep, no paid vacation for these brownshirts, maybe they will shoot first and ask no questions next time. Damn t-shirt wearin’, protestin’, son donatin’, to oily wars for evil empire biotch!!

    They should have shot her, then raped her, then water boarded her to get her to confess her unamerican activities (thought crimes)..then rendered her up unto syrian torture and murder squads.

    That’d teach the skanky old ho to respect authority, dammit!!

    If she were a black drug suspect in texxyass they’d a treated her right!! Neeehaaaawwww!!!

  25. Not enough warrantless spying on cindy, that was the problem in the t-shirt incident! Preemptive defense is the best offense!

  26. I was under the impression the Patriot Act was supposed to protect us from this sort of thing.

  27. What’s a matter duuuhbya..tarians? Cheney got yer tongue, up his ass? Hehehey.

  28. I wonder what would happen if an elected representative wore a disapproved T-shirt? The idea of the Secrecy Service attempting to remove a Congressman from the State of the Union is highly entertaining….

  29. Too bad cindy is too old to have more kids, they could hold her hostage while she was nursing, killing her baby, like the duuuhbyaist regime does in Iraq.

    That’d teach ALL those damn terrorist enabling war protesters!!

  30. During my fellowship at the White House, we used to wonder who would win in a war between the Secret Service and the Capitol police. My vote was always with the latter–they’re just tougher in general.

    Incidentally, one of my bigger surprises in D.C. was the discovery that there were, in fact, uniformed Secret Service officers. I used to walk past them every day I walked into the NEOB. I guess they were Un-Secret Service?

  31. Damn terrorist moms trying to nurse their terrorist babies!!

  32. I meant the former. The Secret Service. The Capitol Police let me go into a small meeting with then-Senator Paul “Kodachrome” Simon while I was holding a small package. This was two months after the Oklahoma City bombing, too.

  33. amazingdrx, although I believe you’ve been unfairly tarred for trolling in the past, you’re definitely trolling today. Please be quiet.

  34. The Capitol Police let me go into a small meeting with then-Senator Paul “Kodachrome” Simon while I was holding a small package.

    Maybe the figured that you just had to go really bad. 🙂

    Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

  35. Uh, huh. A parcel, then.

  36. “The U.S. Army in Iraq has at least twice seized and jailed the wives of suspected insurgents in hopes of “leveraging” their husbands into surrender, U.S. military documents show.”

    “In one case, a secretive task force locked up the young mother of a nursing baby..”


    That’s real family values!! Celebrate duuuhbya..tarians!

  37. The worst thing about the SOTU is that it pre-empted “Boston Legal”, which has more wit, more truth, and more character in any given 5 minutes than all of W’s prefabricated speeches for a year.

  38. If demonstrating in the Capital during the SOTU gets you ejected, then why weren’t the purple finger waving congresspeople from the previous SOTU all ejected?

    That was definately a demonstration was it not?

  39. Dr X,

    Haven’t you realized by now that most of the libertoids are against the Iraq War?

  40. Conspiracy to engage in acts normally considered legal.

  41. I’m talkin’ to the neoconned duuuhbya..tarians joe. I so enjoyed their celebration of cindy’s faux arrest and the shooting of that veteran.

    They are true patriots. Real heroes!

  42. I so enjoyed their celebration of cindy’s faux arrest and the shooting of that veteran.

    Pls. point to a single post celebrating either event on this forum.

  43. Amazingdrx,

    What were you smoking when you wrote this?

  44. Apparently, this isn’t the first libertarian site DRX has trolled.


    Grist and Cato can’t stand him either.

  45. Apparently, this isn’t the first libertarian site DRX has trolled.

    We have received several complaints about your participation in the comment boards on Gristmill, both from other readers and from guest authors. Though the complaints cover a variety of subjects, the main two are as follows:
    1. You frequently issue ad hominem attacks, questioning the motives and character of other readers and authors.
    2. You simply comment too much. Readers have complained that you “overwhelm” the site and “crowd out other voices.” They have said that they believe the frequency of your comments makes other readers hesitant to comment and reduces the diversity and vibrancy of the comment boards.
    Please take steps to address these behaviors.
    This will be your only warning. If we receive further complaints, we will be forced to ban you from further participation on Gristmill.
    –Gristmill admin.


    Grist and Cato can’t stand him either.

  46. Thanks for the traffic boyz! Hehehey.

  47. Meanwhile, in even more insane parts of the world:

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Armed militants angered by a cartoon drawing of the Prophet Muhammad published in European media surrounded EU offices in Gaza on Thursday and threatened to kidnap foreigners as outrage over the caricatures spread across the Islamic world.

    Foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers began leaving Gaza as gunmen there threatened to kidnap citizens of France, Norway, Denmark and Germany unless those governments apologize for the cartoon.

  48. Cartoons are dangerous!!! Just like t-shirts!!!!

  49. “What were you smoking when you wrote this?”

    Nuke you ler waste, it’s the shiznit!

  50. Hey “amazing”drx !

    You’ll be glad to know that Chief Gainers’ racism cost Illinois taxpayers about $200,000 a few years back. You’ll be glad to “know”… until you look it up. (Koski v. Gainer).

  51. The State of the Union Speech is an invitation only event so who the hell invited Cindy Sheehan?

  52. Ceterum censeo, Amazingdrx delenda est.

  53. “The State of the Union Speech is an invitation only event so who the hell invited Cindy Sheehan?”

    About 24 hours before the speech, it became public knowledge (it was posted on Drudge) that a US Representative from California had given Sheehan an invitation. Sheehan was informed by security that protests would not be allowed. Sheehan indicated she was not going to protest and was going to behave herself. Sheehan kept the shirt covered until she reached her seat. Afterwards, Sheehan complained that she was upset, because she had hoped the cameras would be diverted at her t-shirt.

  54. Can we get DRX banned here?

  55. I’m perfectly willing to believe that this was the Capitol Police acting on their own initiative — the boneheads — and on the basis of their own prejudices (thus the differential treatment of shirt-borne messages).

    The broader point — that the president is kept in a warm cocoon by his advance men — is correct and troubling. Fellow Iraq war vets have been barred from BushCo events for displaying anti-war or anti-Bush buttons by Republican committee operatives, usually from the state committees. After being asked if they really want to eject veterans of the Great War on Terror, however, the yellow Republicans usually cave in.

    Strength of their convictions, I guess.

  56. Oh no, banned from this wondrous world of duuuhbya..tarianism?!? Gaaawd forbid..the pain, the pain! It burns. Hehehehehey.

  57. Don’t feed the trolls.

    As for Mother Sheehan and the police, I suspect pressure was applied by the administration on the CapPolice to just apologize and make this whole thing go away. After all, it took attention from all of the vital content in Bush’s speech. Snort!

  58. I’m assuming that Cindy would’ve sat there quietly had she been able to attend the SOTU, right?

  59. I wish there were less projection and more facts. I have not heard clear evidence of the circumstances of what happened to Sheehan and Young, only self reported stories.
    Without prejudice, I can imagine that Sheehan might be more likely to protest immediately as between the two women, she would be the one more likely to expect to get hassled. But, I don’t know.
    What I would like before drawing any conclusions are reports from non-afiliated spectators around these women. Any links?

  60. Well cato.. I am of this opinion.

    “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.”

    Destroy drx? Hehehey. Do your worst.

  61. Not a whole lot of “dubyatarians” on this site, dude.

    Does anyone else think it is a little odd that Sheehan AND Young happened to wear message-bearing shirts to the SOTU? I mean, has a person ever done that in the past? And now two do it on the same night? Given that apparently it was known in advance that Sheehan would be there, was Young’s display a calculated counter-protest (or counter-non-protest, since wearing a shirt is not a “protest”)? At what point did Young take her overgarment off (I assume that her shirt was covered, like Sheehan’s, on her way in the door)? I don’t know– just a weird bit of theater all around.

    Sheehan is a loon, but her getting arrested for wearing that shirt is bullshit.

  62. I’m a freakin’ pre-Christian Roman, dumbass. Or should that be “The Lord Dumbass”?

    Ceterum censeo, Amazingdrx delenda est.

  63. That’s duuuuuh..bya..tarians jeff. Imagine the bleat of the faith filled bushco inc sheople as you say it.

    Apparently you real libertarians deign to give neocon servants a pass here.

    We commie sympathizer civil liberatarians are not willing to accept the tendency of this crowd to willingly “poison and destroy (our) brothers”.

  64. Well cato, that’s very different then. Nevermind.

  65. Another long colloquy that illustrates the demise of reasoned and intelligent discourse.

  66. That’s duuuuuh..bya..tarians jeff. Imagine the bleat of the faith filled bushco inc sheople as you say it.

    Is that you, Mona?

  67. My only thought about the Cindy arrest was that a standard of dress at a SOTU shouldn’t be out of bounds. I don’t know why you need cops to enforce it but it would bug me if 10 years from now each delegation is handing out t-shirts to the legislators with the pre-approved party slogan on it. We already had pro- and anti-war t-shirts this year – it’s way too easy to see that getting out of hand. Next thing you know, the opposition party starts showing up in face paint carrying sponge fingers or something.

    Shouldn’t the Chamber just agree in advance that when you’re in the House of Representatives to listen to the president give a speech, you should not wear t-shirts with slogans? I think that’s fair.

  68. amazingdrx are you drunk/toked ? Take it from someone who’s been there – you won’t like your 400 comments when you wake up.

  69. If you heard Cindy on the Stephanie Miller Show this morning you would know that she had not received a direct apology from the police. Stop being a lazy blogger!


  71. Sheehan got her SOTU invitation from California Rep Lynn Woolsey. Lileks’ Screedblog today has audio from a Medved interview with Woolsey that touches on the incident.

    I don’t like Sheehan at all, but I was extremely annoyed by her arrest, simply because it played right into her plans. She hoped to be arrested, for the publicity, to bolster her dissident cred, and possibly to collect or fabricate juicy “police brutality” anecdotes. I suspect if she hadn’t been arrested for refusing to cover up the shirt, she would have noisily misbehaved during the actual speech to force her arrest.

  72. I’m glad to know the Sheehan-haters here have a direct line to what goes on in her head. Can you read other minds too, or is this a one-woman deal?

    Jordy: I have no idea whether the police offered Sheehan a “direct” apology, or even what exactly that would entail. But their official statement sure sounds like an apology to me.

    While I admit I’m too lazy to listen to Miller’s radio show, or even to have learned of its existence before now, I have read Sheehan’s account of what happened.

  73. People that seek power over others should be mocked, protested, given the Bronx cheer, and even shouted down on occasion. The assertion that Sheehan had to be kept out (by O’Reilly, for one) because she might disturb the Royal Ceremony is a crock. The Emporer and the House of Lords need to stop taking themselves so seriously.
    So, the Feds handled this the same way they handled the guy in Mississippi who dropped the f-bomb on Dick Cheney–arrest, intimidate, question, and then release.

  74. Cops have way too much power. Every time they kill someone, they should have a finger chopped off.

  75. The *only* thing that would make me watch the SOTU would be if public disrobing became standard behaviour for guests. I suppose people will have to wear t-shirts or else the FTC wont allow it to be shown. But the sight of a woman pulling off her “overdress” is good clean fun. No?

  76. You’re on to something, johnl…
    SOTU transformed into a rock-concert atmosphere.

    The crowd all holding up lighters, Supreme Court justices (especially Scalia) giving the “devil-sign”, blonds GOP fembots removing their tops and tossing them on stage, Cheney and Hastert fading quietly in the background like Watts and Wyman, our Commander-in-Chief shouting things like “If anyone came to get liberal tonight you can just turn around and get the f*ck outta here”…
    I could tune in for that.

    No, not really. It would be just as stupid as it is now.

  77. Dogzilla, picture the same scene again on mute so you can’t hear what people are saying. Isn’t that 100X better? Worth watching, maybe not. But much better.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.