An anti-Bush protester has sued several police officers, accusing them of violating his free-speech rights after he was arrested last year for carrying a sign that read, "No more Bush-it."
Chris Kelly, 43, filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday against officer David Weaver, 37, 10 unidentified officers and an unidentified supervisor of the Houston Police Department.
Kelly was holding the cardboard sign near a crowd of Houston Astros baseball fans on Oct. 18 when police approached him. Police handcuffed him, put him into a police car and drove through downtown before releasing him without explanation, the lawsuit alleges.
A municipal judge later dismissed the misdemeanor citation.
The lawsuit asks U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt to declare that Kelly's rights were violated under the U.S. and Texas constitutions.
Kelly, represented by the Texas Civil Rights Project, said he filed the lawsuit "so that I and other Houstonians can feel free to express our political views about our government without the threat of assault and arrest and bogus prosecution by the police."
Police spokesman Alvin Wright said Weaver could not comment because he had not been served with the lawsuit.
Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, said Kelly's arrest was part of a pattern in Texas of discouraging protests against the president.
Similar incidents include five protesters who were jailed two years ago as they headed to protest the Iraq war at Bush's ranch. The city of Crawford agreed to a $43,000 settlement in the case.
And in a case pending in Travis County, protesters are suing Austin police for keeping them from crossing a street to reach the front of the Governor's Mansion in 2001, Harrington said.
© 2005 Associated Press