`Overzealous' Cops Seize Man's `Abort Obama' Sign

February 20, 2009 - 11:30 AM
Police officers seized a sign saying "Abort Obama not the unborn" from a driver's pickup truck, but later returned it after supervisors decided the officers had been "overzealous."
Oklahoma City (AP) - Police officers seized a sign saying "Abort Obama not the unborn" from a driver's pickup truck, but later returned it after supervisors decided the officers had been "overzealous."
 
Construction worker Hal Harrison said Thursday that U.S. Secret Service agents interviewed him at his home and walked through his house after police stopped him last week.
 
"The officer said, 'Do you know why I pulled you over?'" said Harrison, 53. "I said I had no idea, and he said that the sign could be construed by the Secret Service as a threat to the president.
 
"I thought, 'This is something from Nazi Germany, not in Oklahoma.'" He said he's no fan of Obama but that his homemade sign is a political statement opposing abortion, not a threat to the president.
 
While the officer went too far in confiscating the sign, pulling the man over and reporting his name to the Secret Service was not wrong, said Capt. Steve McCool, a spokesman for Oklahoma City Police Department.
 
"The officer was a little overzealous in terms of what the sign meant," McCool said. "He made a decision based on his determination, and once the supervisor got involved, we returned the sign."
 
Adrian Andrews, special agent in charge of the Secret Service's Oklahoma City office, said agents determined Harrison was not a threat.
 
"He was a little agitated that the Oklahoma City Police Department took his sign," Andrews said. "But he understood we have an obligation to check these things out."
 
"There are better ways to make a political statement than to say 'Abort Obama,'" Andrews said. "That's going to get our attention every time. We'd rather be safe than sorry."
 
The sign's back on his truck, Harrison said, and he's considering bringing a civil case against the police for what he considers a violation of free speech rights.
 
"I've always been kind of a loudmouth," Harrison said. "If I can find a lawyer who will take the case, I probably would."