Monday, October 18, 2004

Oregon: Democracy Expelled From Bush Rally

Teachers T-shirt protest draws national attention

The Associated Press

October 18, 2004

PORTLAND (OR)— The ousting of three Southern Oregon teachers from a Bush campaign rally last week has drawn the attention of national Democratic Party officials.

Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe pointed to the incident to charge that the Republicans are putting unprecedented restrictions on who can attend the president’s campaign rallies. The three women were ordered, under threat of arrest, to leave the president’s rally in Central Point. They said a volunteer objected to a statement on their T-shirts, “Protect Our Civil Liberties.”

McAuliffe called the action “beyond outrageous” and said there has never before been a presidential campaign that is so determined to “keep people away who have a different view.”

“The president has stripped his events of anyone who might disagree with him, which is completely un-American,” McAuliffe said in a conference call with reporters Sunday.

Tracey Schmitt, a Bush campaign spokeswoman, said no one on the campaign staff “can remember the incident or understand why they would have been removed unless there was reason to believe that they were disruptive or were planning to be disruptive.”

Tonia Tong, a Medford schoolteacher who was one of the three women removed from the rally, also participated in the conference call. She said the trio had agreed to remain quiet during the event and had successfully passed three security checkpoints.

But she said a volunteer helping with security stopped one of the three women, Janet Voorhies, when she tried to go to the bathroom.

The volunteer told her they were no longer welcome and would have to leave the event. The women said they were escorted out of the Central Point fairgrounds by police officers and threatened with arrest if they did not comply.


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