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Political activist arrested while wearing terrorist costume

Associated Press | October 31 2006

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine The lawyer who divulged President George W. Bush's drunken-driving arrest days before the 2000 election was arrested at gunpoint Tuesday after he was seen on a highway overpass carrying a toy gun while dressed in an Osama bin Laden costume.

Tom Connolly, 49, of Scarborough, was charged with criminal threatening after he stood at a construction site visible to commuters on a major highway while wearing a Halloween holiday costume and waving a sign.

Police officers responding to motorists' calls found a man wearing a white robe and carrying a fake assault rifle.

Before he was arrested, Connolly walked toward officers as what appeared to be plastic grenades tumbled onto the ground, an officer said. The costume included plastic dynamite, grenades, and a replica of an AK-47 assault rifle.

"The whole thing is just incredibly bizarre," said South Portland Police Chief Ed Googins. "It just crossed the line."

Connolly, who ran for governor as a Democrat in 1998 and lost, met with reporters briefly after posting $500 (€400) cash bail to secure his release from the Cumberland County Jail in Portland. Criminal threatening is a misdemeanor.

"There was a First Amendment (constitution free speech right) this morning when I woke up. I don't know how it evaporated with the dawn," he said.

Connolly, a Portland attorney, has been known for wearing costumes to make political statements, typically donning a George W. Bush mask and dancing herky-jerky style for passing motorists. His wife has described him as "marvelously eccentric."

Connolly drew national attention when he was identified as the Democrat who tipped the media to Bush's 1976 drunken-driving arrest in Kennebunkport.

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