Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Editor’s note: Earlier reports that Officer Wesley Cheeks Jr. is a police officer were in error. Further investigation has revealed Officer Cheeks is a member of the Fairfax County Public Schools’ trained School Security Officer team. To contact the school’s security force, e-mail Fred Ellis, the director of safety and security for Fairfax County Public Schools, or Jim McLain, the security coordinator.
A depiction of the sign banned by Officer Cheeks
“This used to be America,” argued a protester outside a health-care town hall meeting in Reston, Va., after a security officer threatened him with arrest for holding up a sign with a picture critical of Barack Obama.
A video of the town hall held earlier this week by Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., shows an unnamed protester standing on school grounds carrying a sign that read “Organizing for National Socialist Health Care – The Final Solution” and depicted Barack Obama in the Joker’s makeup.
Officer Wesley Cheeks Jr. then told the protester that even though others were holding signs, his sign was unacceptable because of the depiction of Obama.
“But you got this with a picture,” Cheeks said, explaining why the protester was being singled out from the others. “That’s the difference. This has got a picture on it. That don’t have a picture on it.
“Sir, leave the picture down,” the officer said. “If you put the picture back up, you’ll be charged with trespassing.”
Video of the exchange can be seen below:
The protester continued the argument, wondering how his presence among hundreds of others at the town hall meeting could be deemed trespassing.
The officer answered, “If I told you once to take it down and you put it back up, I can charge you with whatever I want to charge you with.”
The argument continued until the officer walked away.
“This used to be America,” said the protester.
“It ain’t no more, OK?” answered Cheeks.
Officer Cheeks is a member of the Fairfax County Public Schools’ trained School Security Officer team. The school’s security force, however, refused to comment on the story until its communications offices reopen on Monday.
As WND has reported, Americans have been flocking to lawmakers’ health-care town hall meetings, typically voicing loud displeasure with the ever-expanding size of the federal government and what many see as yet another intrusive expansion.
All across the country, legislators coming to their home districts in attempt to sell the health-care plan to constituents are being met with fierce opposition and huge crowds:
In Mehlville, Mo., protesters lined up around the block of the Bernard Middle School gym where Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo., had planned a public forum. When hundreds were left standing on the street, they remained outside into the evening. Eventually, a union representative reportedly assaulted one of the protesters, Kenneth Gladney, which lead to six arrests, including a St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter. Gladney later appeared in an interview on the Fox News Channel explaining the attack, which drew national attention.
A video posted on YouTube, one of many from around the country, reportedly shows several hundreds standing outside in a stunningly long line, waiting to get into a packed town hall meeting on health care with Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga.
At a health-care town hall event in Syracuse, N.Y., in July, police were called in to restore order, and at least one heckler was taken away by local police.
Close to 100 sign-carrying protesters greeted Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Fla., at a late June community college small-business development forum in Panama City, Fla.
Danville, Va., anti-tax tea party activists claimed they were “refused an opportunity” to ask Rep. Thomas Perriello, D-Va., a question at a town hall event and instructed by a plainclothes police officer to leave the property after they attempted to hold up protest signs.
The constituents of Rep. John Tanner, D-Tenn., unable to access their representative through a town hall meeting, created a video charging that Tanner has met with Michael Moore and Fidel Castro, “But he won’t meet his constituents in the 8th District to talk about health care.”
The biggest source of protests are the health-care bill, the $787 billion economic stimulus package and the cap-and-trade legislation. They’re also angry about Barack Obama’s refusal to release his birth certificate to prove he is a “natural born citizen” and constitutionally eligible to serve in the White House.
According to an Associated Press report, Obama’s top political adviser, David Axelrod, showed senators in D.C. video of some of the boisterous town-hall meetings and discussed how to respond to disruptions.
“It’s a challenge, no question about it, and you’ve got to get out there and make the case,” Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said afterward. “This is not the time for the faint-hearted.”