Arrest of KSU Professor at Capitol Reveals First Amendment Issues
(APN) ATLANTA — Assistant Professor of Philosophy Amy Donahue, of Kennesaw State University, had no intention of engaging in civil disobedience went to the Georgia Capitol with two other philosophy professors with signs stating their opposition to the Campus Carry bill, HB 859, but she wound up in jail nonetheless.
Capitol police told the women they could not carry signs, according to the women; however, there appears to be discriminatory enforcement of this rule based on the message.
For example, a photograph by Brett Sanderlin for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows religious freedom advocates holding up signs without being disrupted by Capitol Police.
Are signs permitted for messages in connection with First Amendment issues like religious freedom, but not Second Amendment issues like Campus Carry?
Donahue, Prof. Katya Vladimirov, and Asst. Prof. Ariel Eisenberg had never lobbied before and were trying to navigate their way through the usual confusion at the Capitol.
Donahue and Eisenberg carried handmade signs that read, “HB 859,” with an encircled “F-” and “Keep our Campus Safe.”
HB 859 passed the State Senate on March 11, 2016, in a vote of 37 to seventeen, and now heads to Gov. Nathan Deal for his possible signature.
They went through security and placed the signs on the conveyor belt and through the x-ray machine, Vladimirov told Atlanta Progressive News.
First, the three women went to the gallery on the fourth floor and were told to leave their signs at the door, which they did, Vladimirov said. They were instructed that the place to lobby was the third floor, not the gallery.
A staff member explained that lobbying and signage were allowed on the third floor, according to Vladimirov.
So they picked up their signs and went to the third floor. Once on the third floor, they met other women and were standing around talking and exchanging information.
The signs were never raised up above their heads, but rather were hanging from one hand, down by their sides.
They had been in the Capitol for about twenty minutes, chatting with other women, when suddenly three armed men in blue uniforms came up and said, “You can’t have signs inside the Capitol,” according to Vladimirov.
Eisenberg handed her sign to a Georgia State Trooper, Vladimirov said.
Donahue started to explain that a staff person told them that lobbying and signage was permitted on the third floor. But then another State Trooper grabbed Donahue’s sign, knocking her off balance and the next thing anyone knew, she was on the floor, Vladimirov said.
Six officers came and a few grabbed her arms and dragged her several feet toward the steps. Vladimirov followed and was worried that Donahue was hurt because she was not moving and looked very pale.
“What are you doing, she is not a threat, why are you treating her like that?” Vladimirov recalls saying to the State Troopers.
Next, the Troopers turned Donahue over on her stomach, handcuffed, arrested and took her to the Fulton County Jail. She did not resist and remained passive during the senseless ordeal.
“I have never seen anything like that, it was terrifying and overwhelming. I’m from Russia and I have never seen a police officer handle a woman in that way. They laughed while they were standing over her laying on the floor motionless,” Vladimirov told APN.
“I stayed in bed all weekend because I was so traumatized by what happened,” Vladimirov said.
At no point did these women hold up the signs, or disrupt anyone or anything. They were simply trying to learn how to lobby their representatives to vote against HB 859, the Campus Carry bill.
Apparently, numerous security officers saw them enter with signs and said nothing; they received conflicting information, if not misinformation, about what they could and could not do at the Capitol.
Prof. Donahue was released on a two thousand dollar bond
“While we support appropriate expressions of opinion, we do not condone the disruptive activities associated with this incident,” Kennesaw State University said in a statement.