The protest will be held outside of Boone Pickens Stadium in the “Free Speech Zone”, located on the corner of Athletic Avenue and Hester.
. . . Rex Friend, an Oklahoma City attorney specializing in human rights and civil rights cases, said protesters should go wherever they need to be to express their First Amendment rights Saturday, even if that means leaving the protest zone.
He said the designation of protest zones does not honor the First Amendmentâ€™s freedom of expression; however, attempts to censor free speech are to be expected from Bushâ€™s administration, he said.
â€œAccording to (Bush), weâ€™re all to enjoy free speech as long as itâ€™s in a way thatâ€™s invisible,â€ Friend said.
He said he suggests protesters who are happy with the protest zoneâ€™s location stay there.
â€œThen, the others should put the campus police on notice that the rest (of the protesters) will be other places on campus expressing their First Amendment rights,â€ Friend said. â€œHowever, they should know they may be ticketed and treated like criminals.â€
Sampson said he realizes some people may want to protest by themselves at another location Saturday. In that case, law enforcement would request they move to the protest zone area but would not force them to do so, he said.
â€œWe certainly wouldnâ€™t prevent someone from being there without a permit,â€ Sampson said. â€œIf you came, and you had an opinion you wanted to express somewhere, you could do it as long as you arenâ€™t disruptive.â€
. . .Sampson said â€œprotesterâ€ will be defined as any person being disruptive and disrespectful toward the president and the graduating seniors or their families during commencement. He said people wearing anti-Bush T-shirts will be allowed to attend provided they do not disrupt the ceremony, but loud or disruptive people will be asked to leave the stadium.
Graduating seniors wishing to stage a silent â€œwalk-outâ€ during Bushâ€™s speech will be allowed to do so provided they leave without disruption, Sampson said.
He said he has talked with a few students organizing the â€œOklahomans for Democracyâ€ protest and said he thinks they want to make their point in a manner that is observed but is still respected.
â€œI expect them to honor that and not do something to embarrass the university or graduating seniors and their families,â€ Sampson said. â€œOur purpose is for the graduating seniors and their families to have a memorable day.â€
BTW, for those of y’all wondering, I will probably drop by the protest for a little while but after that will attend the graduation ceremony (my brother and his wife are among the graduates). Since I won’t be there for the height of the protest, I would really encourage participants to take pictures and then post them at OKIMC.org so that there will be at least some media coverage of the Oklahoma response to Bush’s visit to OSU.
Also I would definitely echo what Rex Friend said above and add one more thing. If anyone is planning on exercising their first amendment rights outside of the approved “free speech zone” (the irony of this is incredible, free speech isn’t free if you can only exercise it within a restricted zone), I would have a non-participating friend ready with some cash to make bail and to be ready to possibly spend the weekend in jail. (and it might not be a bad idea to call The Oklahoma ACLU this week and get a referal for an attorney in case you need one)
It ain’t right but America isn’t free and it’s best to be prepared when you’re fighting for your rights.