OKC officer pulls man over for anti-Obama sign on vehicle
By McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Published: February 19, 2009
An Oklahoma City
police officer wrongly pulled over a man last week and confiscated an anti-President Barack Obama
sign the man had on his vehicle.
The officer misinterpreted the sign as threatening, said Capt. Steve McCool
, of the Oklahoma City Police Department
, and took the sign, which read "Abort Obama, not the unborn."
said he was driving to work when a police car followed him for several miles and then signaled for him to pull over.
''I pulled over, knowing I hadn't done anything wrong," Harrison said in a recent phone interview.
When the officer asked Harrison if he knew why he had been pulled over, Harrison said he did not.
''They said, 'It's because of the sign in your window,'" Harrison said.
''It's not meant to be a threat, it's a statement about abortion," Harrison said.
He said he disagrees with the president's position on abortion.
''I asked the officer, 'Do you know what abort means?'" Harrison said. "He said, 'Yeah, it means to kill.' I said, 'No, it means to remove or terminate.'"
Harrison said his sign was to be interpreted as saying something like: Remove Obama from office, not unborn babies from the womb.
The officers confiscated Harrison's sign and gave him a slip of paper that stated he was part of an investigation.
Harrison said he later received a call from a person who said he was a lieutenant supervisor for the Internal Investigations Department
and wanted to know his location and return his sign to him.
According to Harrison, the supervisor said the Secret Service
had been contacted on the matter and had told them the sign was not a threat to the president.
Harrison was asked if he would like to file a complaint. He said he was not sure but would take the paperwork, just in case.
But his run-in with the law wasn't over yet.
''The Secret Service called and said they were at my house," Harrison said.
After talking to his attorney, Harrison went home where he met the Secret Service.
''When I was on my way there, the Secret Service called me and said they weren't going to ransack my house or anything ... they just wanted to (walk through the house) and make sure I wasn't a part of any hate groups."
Harrison said he invited the Secret Service agents into the house and they were "very cordial."
''We walked through the house and my wife and 2-year-old were in the house," Harrison said.
He said they interviewed him for about 30 minutes and then left, not finding any evidence Harrison was a threat to the president.
''I'm still in contact with a lawyer right now," Harrison said. "I don't know what I'm going to do."
Harrison said he feels his First Amendment rights were violated.
McCool said the officer who pulled over Harrison misinterpreted the sign.
''We had an officer that his interpretation of the sign was different than what was meant," McCool said. "You've got an officer who had a different thought on what the word 'abort' meant."
McCool said the sign basically meant Obama should be impeached and it was not a threat.
''(The officer) shouldn't have taken the sign," McCool said. "That was (Harrison's) First Amendment right to voice his concern."
McCool said although the sign should not have been confiscated, the situation was made right in the end.
''We always try to do the right thing and in the end we believe we did the right thing by returning the sign," McCool said. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services