First we had the Denver Three, ejected from a taxpayer-funded town hall meeting for bumper stickers that said "No Blood for Oil."
Now we have a Vietnam vet arrested for wearing a shirt while drinking coffee at a VA hospital.
Mike Ferner reports himself of the events that transpired
"You can't be in here protesting," officer Adkins said, pointing to my Veterans For Peace shirt.
"Well, I'm not protesting, I'm having a cup of coffee," I returned, thinking that logic would convince Adkins to go back to his earlier duties of guarding against serious terrorists.
Flipping his badge open, he said, "No, not with that shirt. You're protesting and you have to go."
Beginning to get his drift, I said firmly, "Not before I finish my coffee."
He insisted that I leave, but still not quite believing my ears, I tried one more approach to reason. "Hey, listen. I'm a veteran. This is a V.A. facility. I'm sitting here not talking to anybody, having a cup of coffee. I'm not protesting and you can't kick me out."
"You'll either go or we'll arrest you," Adkins threatened.
"Well, you'll just have to arrest me," I said, wondering what strange land I was now living in.
I'm not exactly sure what country we're living in anymore, either. Last I checked, the First Amendment was still one of our most cherished tenets.
UPDATE: Rez Dog makes a comment below that there is more context to the story: Apparently Mr. Ferner was part of "the Voices for Creative Nonviolence's 30-day, 320-mile 'Walk for Justice.'" While on this walk, he along with the group
stopped at the Jesse Brown VA center and stood on the sidewalk outside with signs against the Iraq war. The sign I held said, "Demand quality healthcare for all veterans."
At one point I took a break to use the bathroom and get a cup of coffee. The rest, as they say, is in the story[.]
This is an important piece of information, one that in my opinion should have been included in the article that has made its way around the 'net. At the same time, as I note in a comment below, I don't think this alters the thrust of the story, which is that Mr. Ferner, while on his coffee break, was not actively protesting while in the VA center
. At that point, he was merely a veteran enjoying a cup of coffee, and he should have been able to finish that cup of coffee in peace. He should not
have been targetted simply because of the message on his shirt, which was the reason given by the guard for his arrest.