ACLU Sues Brattleboro Police Over Protest Arrests

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(Host) The American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont is suing Brattleboro police for arresting protesters at a speech by the governor.

Governor Jim Douglas was speaking at the Latchis Theater in Brattleboro last March when four audience members rose from their seats.

They silently held up signs that read "Veto Nuclear Jim November 2010."

A You-Tube video shows Brattleboro police confiscating the signs and removing the protesters while the governor continued speaking.

According to the federal lawsuit, the protesters were handcuffed and arrested for disorderly conduct – although the Windham County state’s attorney later declined to prosecute the case.

Manchester lawyer Stephen Saltonstall represents the protesters.  He says the arrests violated their First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly.

(Saltonstall) "The law is absolutely clear in my opinion that the police had no right to arrest these folks. They were peacefully and quietly expressing their views against Vermont Yankee and against Gov. Douglas and his support of Vermont Yankee."

(Host) The suit also claims the arrests violated the protesters’ Fourth Amendment right to be free from arbitrary search and seizure.

Brattleboro Police chief Eugene Wrinn and two Brattleboro officers are named in the suit. Wrinn could not be reached.

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