Contrary to his claims, police video shows MQ Sullivan was not threatened by Corsicana Police
Video also shows Texas Right to Life President Jim Graham was ecstatic about police citations that he and Sullivan would later use as tools for fundraising
Originally published on the Quorum Report.
CORSICANA - As some self-proclaimed conservatives complain about what happened during a protest of Rep. Byron Cook, video has surfaced of their demonstration and it reveals that claims about Corsicana Police made by Michael Quinn Sullivan are dubious at best.
Sullivan and Texas Right to Life President Jim Graham told a tale of police "intimidation" during the protest. They claimed their freedom of speech had been chilled when they were issued citations for violating a city ordinance requiring a permit for gatherings of over 25 people occupying a public roadway. Sullivan said he was "Threatened With Jail.” Sullivan, who handles the day-to-day operations of Empower Texans for the group’s Chairman Tim Dunn, claimed “the City of Corsicana doesn’t put much stock in that whole First Amendment prohibition against government ‘abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.’”
But, police body camera video of Sullivan and Graham's interactions with officers reveals a very different story – a story of those police officers being extremely lenient, polite, agreeable, and asking for cooperation. In short: The video is not all that exciting, which is exactly the point. On social media and in fundraising emails, Sullivan and Graham continue to portray the day’s events as an epic showdown with an overbearing police force while freedom of speech hung in the balance.
It was nothing like that.
The video obtained by Quorum Report shows Graham was thrilled to be given a citation by the police. Perhaps he was ecstatic because he would later use the ticket as a fundraising tool. On the evening of the protest, Sullivan and Graham wasted no time trying to use the fact that they were accused of endangering public safety to try to raise campaign cash. Graham implored supporters to send “an emergency contribution of $100, $250, $500, $1,500 or $3,000 or more” so that he could “defend our right to free speech and our right to defend Life!”
"The Corsicana chief of police threatened me and Texas Right to Life’s president, Jim Graham, with jail!," Sullivan exclaimed.
The video shows no such threat. It simply never got to the point of the police chief threatening anyone.
Michael Quinn Sullivan being issued his citation
In watching the video, it becomes clear that Sullivan, Graham and others seemed to be actively trying to be cited by police so that they could later complain about it as an infringement on their rights.
Sullivan said “outstanding" when he was told by police he was about to be issued a ticket. "Hey Jim Graham! Come on Down!" Sullivan shouted when it was time for Graham to receive his ticket. Graham was downright giddy prior to being cited. He gleefully ran across the street to the police with a huge smile on his face and his arms waving in the air shouting “Winning!” He was elated to be receiving a ticket from the officers who he would later describe as intimidating.
You can see all that starting at about 3 minutes into the video below. The issuing of citations to Sullivan and Graham happens at 11 minutes and 40 seconds into the video.
Ordinances that require demonstrators to obtain a permit are commonplace in cities across Texas and in no way chill anyone's freedom of speech. City government needs to know when and where a protest or a parade is going to occur so that public safety can be protected. For example, if a fire broke out nearby or there was a medical emergency requiring EMS, Corsicana PD would need to have enough officers already on site to guide the protesters out of the way while fire trucks and other emergency vehicles made their way to where they were needed.
After Sullivan and Graham ran afoul of the law in their dustup with Corsicana PD, a permit was acquired for a similar protest of Rep. Cook’s event in Hillsboro. "In accordance with our protest permit, stay on public property, sidewalks, and do not impede traffic in the street or drives or entry to businesses,” organizers said.
Copyright November 16, 2015, Harvey Kronberg, www.quorumreport.com, All rights are reserved. Reprinted with permission.