Sue Niederer, mother of Seth Dvorin who died in Iraq last Feb. 3 when a bomb he was defusing exploded, took her campaign to end the Iraq war directly into the Bush-Cheney campaign Sept. 17.
An activist with Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), Niederer went to a rally featuring Laura Bush at the firehouse in Hamilton, N.J. She put on her T-shirt emblazoned with the message, “President Bush killed my son.” Just as Laura Bush began to defend her husband’s preemptive war, Niederer stood up and shouted, “If this war is so justified, why aren’t your daughters serving?”
Her son’s action saved the lives of 18 other soldiers in his squad. But his sacrifice did not move zealous Bush supporters, who leaped to their feet, surrounded her and began chanting “Four more years!”
Niederer told the World in a telephone interview that she had gone through proper channels and had received a ticket to attend the rally. “I got out that one question and I had another but I was cut off,” she said. “Why aren’t the children of the senators, legislators, congressmen serving if this war is justified?”
She left the rally voluntarily, she said, but reporters surrounded her outside and peppered her with questions. She was answering their questions when police arrested her for trespassing. “How can I be trespassing? I have a ticket,” she replied. “They handcuffed me and put me in a paddy wagon. We sat there for 45 minutes and then they took me to the Hamilton police headquarters.” She has a date for a court hearing but has learned that charges will not be pressed.
She added, “My reaction to this incident is simple: It’s denial of free speech. If you go against their policies, they will shut you up.”
A right-wing radio talk show host in Philadelphia interviewed her. “He said I could be perceived as a ‘threat’ to Laura Bush. Me? A threat? I don’t think so. They just want to silence the opposition to this atrocious war. They wanted to make an example of me.” Instead, she said, there has been an outpouring of support from across the country.
Recently, Federal Judge Carole Bloom dismissed the case against Nicole and Jeff Rank of Corpus Christi, Texas, arrested July 4 at a Bush campaign rally on statehouse grounds in Charleston, W.Va. They were wearing T-shirts with the message, “Love America, Hate Bush.”
A month later, Glen Hiller of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., was fired from his job at an advertising agency in Frederick MD., for “embarrassing” his employer. Hiller attended a Bush rally at a nearby high school. As Bush defended the war on Iraq, Hiller stood and shouted his disagreement with the war. He was ejected from the meeting and dismissed from his job the next day.
Niederer is unrepentant and vows to continue her work with MFSO. “I’m very proud to be a member of that group,” she said.
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