- Ervand AbrahamianMiddle East and Iran Expert at Baruch College, City University of New York. He is the author of several books and is the co-author of "Inventing the Axis of Evil: The Truth About North Korea, Iran, and Syria."
In this web-only special, Cindy Sheehan talks to Democracy Now! about why she was arrested last night at the State of the Union. Sheehan, whose son Casey died in Iraq, was arrested and removed from the House gallery after taking her seat and unveiling a T-shirt with an anti-war message. The shirt read: "2,245 dead. How Many More?" [includes rush transcript]
California Democratic Congressmember Lynn Woolsey, who invited Sheehan to the event, said "It stunned me because I didn’t know in America you could be arrested for wearing a T-shirt with a slogan on it. That’s especially so in the Capitol and in the House of Representatives, which is the people’s House."
Cindy Sheehan was released earlier today.
CINDY SHEEHAN: I was here in Washington, D.C. We were doing some events around the State of the Union address. Earlier in the day yesterday I was on a people’s state of the union panel with Lynn Woolsey and John Conyers and Ann Wright and John Cavanagh from the Institute for Policy Studies. And Lynn Woolsey came up to me, and she said, "Here, Cindy, I got you a ticket to go into the State of the Union." So I just took it and, when I thought about it, I really didn’t want to go, so I gave it to an Iraq Veteran Against the War, my ticket to get into the State of the Union. But then Lynn called and said that she had — Congresswoman Woolsey had called and said that she had already told the media that I was going.
So, I went to the State of the Union. I all day yesterday was wearing a shirt that said, "2,245 dead. How many more?" So, I was still wearing the shirt when I got inside the Capitol. It said, "2,245 dead. How many more?" I had a light jacket over it. I went down to my seat. I went to take my jacket off, because I just walked up three flights of stairs and I was a little warm, and when the police officer saw my jacket, he yelled, "Protester!" And he said something like, "You have to leave now." And he grabbed me out of my seat. He put my arms behind me, ran me up the stairs, put handcuffs on me, and they arrested me.
My initial thoughts were I can’t believe that — what country we live in now, that you can’t even wear a shirt in the people’s house. You know, you can’t wear a shirt that may be or may not be in opposition to what the government is doing. You can’t honor the dead by wearing the number of the dead. I mean, my son is one of the people who died, and then I thought, "What did my son die for?" You know, this is not the country that I have grown to love. The President can spy on you without due process. You can be arrested for wearing a t-shirt that’s not obscene or in the least bit vile. And I wasn’t doing anything disruptive. I just unzipped my jacket, and I was arrested. And I was arrested for — I forget the exact term — but it was something like criminal conduct.