Police in Pennsylvania arrested a man for asking a question during a recent town hall session with GOP Senator Pat Toomey.
Bethlehem, PA police removed and arrested Simon Radecki, 28, of Northampton, for asking “about nonexistent reports that Toomey’s daughter had been kidnapped,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
“We’ve been here for a while. You probably haven’t seen the news. Can you confirm whether or not your daughter Bridget has been kidnapped?” Radecki had asked the senator, intending to use the question as commentary on immigration policy and preserving DACA. “The reason I ask is because that’s the reality of families that suffer deportation.”
Radecki, who is an activist with an immigrant rights group, is being charged with disorderly conduct and disrupting a public meeting for asking the question during the town hall hosted by local television station PBS39, which also found Radecki’s behavior “inappropriate,” the Post-Gazette reported.
Radecki said the incident represents “a startling reminder of what it’s like to live in the United States, or least Pennsylvania, nowadays, where someone can literally be arrested and taken into custody for asking a pointed question.”
The ACLU of Pennsylvania has said it would come to Radecki’s aid should he seek its help.
“He didn’t disturb the meeting,” said ACLU of Pennsylvania legal director Vic Walczak to the Post-Gazette. “He was trying to ask a question.”
According to Walczak, Radecki’s question does not meet the state standards for disrupting a public gathering because it didn’t intend to prevent or disrupt the meeting.
“You aren’t going to show that intent, and the disruption stemmed not from his question but the response to it,” he said to the Post-Gazette.
It’s worth noting that this was Senator Toomey’s first public town hall appearance in months, and some believed it was “fake,” as only 54 seats were available, and only 30 of which were designated to the public who were not members of local political party committees. Organizers had attempted to pre-screen questions, handing attendees a green card if their question was approved.