An anti-war demonstrator taken into custody for disorderly conduct at Auburn University Montgomery for refusing to protest in a designated area during President Bush's visit last week was ordered released by a city magistrate because she didn't commit a crime.
The university requires protesters to demonstrate in a free speech zone located in the center of campus, but the woman stood outside the gym where the president was speaking last Thursday, according to reports. The policy is a permanent policy, not one established for the president's visit.
The woman, who held up a "Stop the War!" sign, refused to give police her name or move to the designated location and became uncooperative when AUM police officer Chris Silvis tried to handcuff her. Two state troopers came to his aid and she was taken to the Montgomery County Detention Facility, reports show.
But Chief Magistrate Patrick Murphy ordered that she be released from the jail later that evening because the sign was a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment, according to an Associated Press report.
"I ordered her released because nothing in the complaint indicated a criminal offense because there was no probable cause and she didn't commit a crime," Murphy said.
AUM spokesman Lee Bridges also confirmed late Monday that the woman was not arrested, even though an attempt was made.
"They took her in because of her conduct, not because she was protesting," Bridges said. "But she was not arrested, because the magistrate said no crime took place and therefore no charges were ever formally filed."
AUM's free speech and demonstration policy says speakers can demonstrate in a designated area in the library plaza between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. All events must be scheduled with campus police.
Bridges didn't know the history behind the policy, but he said the library plaza was chosen because it is in a central location and does not disrupt classroom activity or stall pedestrian and vehicle traffic.
Those who violate the rules are subject to immediate eviction or removal from the campus without warning and could face legal action, the policy states