Secret Service To Prohibit Cross Displays At Bush Inauguration
Jimmy Moore – Talon News January 6, 2004
Public display of crosses at President George W. Bush's Inaugural Parade on January 20 will be prohibited, according to a letter sent to the National Park Service by the U.S. Secret Service last month.
On December 17, 2004, the Secret Service sent a letter on U.S. Department of Homeland Security letterhead to Terry Carlstrom, who serves as the regional director of the National Park Service in the National Capitol Region.
A list of banned items during the Inaugural Parade is outlined in the letter, including firearms, ammunition, explosives, weapons of any kind, aerosols, sign supports, packages, coolers, thermal or glass containers, backpacks, large bags, laser pointers, animals, structures, and anything else determined to be a safety hazard.
Specifics are mentioned in the letter about the size and scope of any signs brought to the Inaugural Parade, including being made with materials that do not pose any danger to parade participants by means of concealing a weapon.
Other prohibited items that the Secret Service deems as threatening to parade participants are also listed within the text of the letter, including props, folding chairs, bicycles, puppets, paper mache, coffins, crates, crosses, theaters, cages, and statues.
Approved items at the parade according to the letter include signs, portable bullhorns, cell phones, baby carriages, baby strollers, wheelchairs, and other devices used by handicapped persons as long as they have a National Park Service permit.
The Christian Defense Coalition was granted one of these permits on December 23, 2004 to hold a prayer vigil and demonstration at the Inaugural Parade, but its director was appalled that they would not be allowed to display any crosses at this event.
"By prohibiting the public display of crosses at the Inauguration Parade, the Secret Service has trampled the First Amendment and crushed religious freedom in the public square," remarked Rev. Patrick Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition. "Simply put, it is religious bigotry and censorship."
Mahoney added that it appears that Christian symbols are the only ones being forbidden, and he will risk being apprehended by the Secret Service to declare his right to free speech and freedom of religion.
"We want to make it clear that we will be on the public sidewalks holding crosses at the Inauguration Parade even if that means risking arrest and jail," Mahoney contended. "The First Amendment should be celebrated at this Inauguration, not crushed."
A news conference has been scheduled for Thursday at 11:30 a.m. EST on the corner of 4th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, the site of the prayer vigil and demonstration to be held on January 20 during the Inauguration Parade, to discuss this prohibition of public cross displays approved by the Secret Service.
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Last updated 13/01/2005