Activists plan to sue over removal from town hall meeting with Bush
DENVER – Three people who were removed from President Bush’s town hall meeting on Social Security in Colorado last month because their car had a “No More Blood for Oil” bumper sticker said Friday they would sue the man who escorted them out, but they need to know his identity first.”We want to know who this person is, and who trained them, because we’re going to sue” both the man and his trainers, said Dan Recht, a lawyer representing Alex Young, Karen Bauer and Leslie Weise.The three belong to an activist organization called Denver Progressives. The day after the March 21 event, they were told by the Secret Service they were singled out because they belong to the “No Blood for Oil” group. They belong to no such group, but believe the statement was a reference to their bumper sticker.The White House has said the man was a volunteer who probably feared the three might have disrupted the event. Bauer, Young and Weise acknowledge they wore T-shirts under their clothing that read, “Stop the Lies,” but say they did not plan to reveal them.”Nobody was being dangerous or inappropriate in any fashion in this case,” Recht said.Recht said this week that the Secret Service opened a criminal investigation into the incident, seeking to determine whether the man was illegally impersonating a Secret Service agent. Secret Service spokesman Jonathan Cherry declined to comment Friday.The man who escorted the three out did not identify himself, but he threatened Bauer and Weise with arrest if they “did anything” and told them they had to leave because it was a private event, the women said. The man was dressed in a dark suit and wore an earpiece and lapel pin, they said.Recht said he has made Freedom of Information Act requests to nine groups, including the Bush administration and the Secret Service, to try to determine who the man is. So far, he has received no information.White House spokesman Allen Abney said discussing a volunteer would serve no other purpose than to further the three people’s political agenda.Members of Colorado’s congressional delegation from both parties have raised concerns about the case. U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colorado, said he also has asked for the name of the man involved.”There does seem to be a general belief that what happens isn’t right and we have to get to the bottom of it,” he said.Young said the incident was similar to at least two others. In Tucson, Ariz., last month, a college student wasn’t allowed to enter the convention center where the president was speaking because he was wearing a University of Arizona Young Democrats T-shirt.In February, a “black list” of people banned from getting tickets was published by The Forum newspaper of Fargo, N.D. The White House and the Republican Party denied such a list existed and Gov. John Hoeven’s staff said no one was denied tickets. Fargo police later said the list was created by a local volunteer involved in the ticket distribution.”It would be alarming to know that the White House considers anyone with a different opinion than theirs a threat, and is willing to remove them from a public, taxpayer-funded event based only on their viewpoint,” Weise said. “Only when we know who this person is, who he was working in coordination with and who trained these people, will we know who violated our constitutional rights.”Federal prison inmate dies after severe beatingDENVER – An inmate at the nation’s most secure federal prison died after a severe beating, the first violent death in the 10-year history of the lockup, officials said Friday.Bureau of Prisons spokesman Mark Collins said Manuel Torrez, who was serving a 13 1/2-year term for a racketeering conviction in California, died after the assault Thursday at the ultrasecure “Supermax” prison in Florence, about 90 miles southeast of Denver.Collins said Torrez was assaulted by “an inmate or inmates” while he was outside his cell for exercise. He declined to say whether any inmates had been identified in the assault. The FBI was investigating the assault.Fremont County Coroner Dorothy Twellman said prison officials told her Torrez was beaten by two other inmates. Twellman said Torrez, 64, was “viciously beaten for several minutes about the head, neck and chest.” An autopsy was planned.A Look at the Legislature on Friday- The Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation that would create a new framework for water negotiations all over Colorado. House Bill 1177 would create a statewide river basins compact committee that would negotiate solutions to Colorado’s growing water supply crisis. The bill would establish local roundtables to serve on behalf of basins in water negotiations. The bill now goes to the full Senate for debate.- The House approved amendments and sent to Gov. Bill Owens House Bill 1141 that would allow authorities to charge women with child abuse if they use drugs when they are pregnant.- The House approved amendments and sent to Gov. Bill Owens House Bill 1035 that would allow police and sheriff’s departments to post sex offender registries on the internet.- The House Finance Committee approved House Bill 1333, a bonding proposal intended to spell out to voters how the state plans to spend $100 million a year if voters approve a plan to fix the state budget. The bill will designate $1.7 billion over the next three years to finance roads, bridges, and other strategic transportation projects, $147 million to address crucial safety needs in Colorado’s schools, $50 million for life and safety improvements at state university and community college buildings, and $175 million to fund retirement plans for police officers and firefighters. It now heads to the House Appropriations Committee.- The Senate gave final approval to using $34.8 million in oil and gas taxes to pay damages in a water lawsuit won by Kansas. Senate Bill 226 now moves to the House. Lawmakers are in a hurry to pass it because interest on the debt is about $5,000 a day.
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