PHILADELPHIA (CN) – Pennsylvania state troopers and East Lampeter police officers were covered by qualified immunity when they arrested Iraq War protesters at a 2004 re-election campaign event for President Bush, the 3rd Circuit ruled.
During the parade, seven male protesters stripped down to thong underwear and formed a human pyramid, simulating the infamous photo from the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.
The need to provide security for a presidential appearance and the potentially sexually offensive nature of the protest made gave the officers probable cause to arrest the protesters under the Open Lewdness Act.
Even if the protesters’ First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated, the police were entitled to qualified immunity, Judge Nygaard ruled.
The judge upheld the trial court’s summary judgment in favor of the officers because the protesters’ constitutional rights were not clearly established.
Tristan Egolf and his fellow protesters had signs and T-shirts with such slogans as “F*ck Bush, F*ck Texas” and “Bush: World’s No. 1 Terrorist.”