Woolsey sounds off on Sheehan's arrest at SOTU

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) yesterday sharply criticized the Capitol Police for arresting and removing the anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan from the House gallery before President Bush's State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Woolsey gave Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, a ticket to attend the speech. The police ejected Sheehan for unlawful conduct after they saw her T-shirt, which bore the slogan "2245 Dead. How many more?"

In a blistering response, Woolsey asked, "Since when is free speech conditional on whether you agree with the president? Cindy Sheehan, who gave her own flesh and blood for this disastrous war, did not violate any rules of the House of Representatives."

The congresswoman's statement continued, "Free speech and the First Amendment exist to protect dissenting statements like Ms. Sheehan's last night."

At press time, the charges against Sheehan were dropped.

A Capitol Police spokesperson said protesting in the gallery is prohibited.  

Beverly Young, wife of Rep. Bill Young (R-Calif.), has also accused the police of removing her from the chamber because her T-shirt bore the slogan "Support the Troops - Defending Our Freedom," the St. Petersburg Times reported.

The incident is still under investigation.