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The trooper and Santorum.

On the evening of August 10, 2005, Hannah Shaffer of Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, decided to go to the nearby Barnes & Noble outside of Wilmington, Delaware. She wanted to see Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who was promoting his book, It Takes a Family.

The event was billed as a "book signing and discussion," Shaffer says.

Shaffer, eighteen, thought Santo rum's public appearance might be a good occasion to have a discussion with him about his notorious claim that legalizing gay marriage was akin to legalizing incest and bestiality.

"So I contacted a few of my left-leaning friends, and they said they'd really like to be there because they felt the same way," she says.

When she arrived at 6:00 p.m., some of her friends were already there, along with two other young women she didn't know, Stacey Galperin and Miriam Rocek.

As Shaffer was talking with her friends, Rocek made a joke.

She held up a copy of a book by the gay writer Dan Savage called The Kid, which is about how he and his partner adopted a son. And Rocek said, "It would be funny if we got Santorum to sign this book." (To discredit Santorum, Savage and his readers in 2003 came up with a nasty definition of Santorum that now often appears on Internet searches for Santorum's name.)

A woman nearby was not amused. "You're shameful and disgusting," she said, according to Shaffer.

A state trooper in full uniform, including hat and gun, was in the store, and, according to Shaffer and Galperin, he met with the woman, along with a few others, including one of Santorum's people.

Galperin says she heard the trooper ask, "Do you want me to get rid of them?"

And then the trooper, Delaware State Police Sergeant Mark DiJiacomo, who was on detail as a private security guard, came over to the group of women.

Here is the conversation, as Galperin remembers it:

"You guys have to leave."

"Why?"

"Your business is not wanted here. They don't want you here anymore. If you don't leave, you're going to be arrested. If you can't post bail, you'll go to prison. Those of you who are under eighteen will go to Ferris [the juvenile detention center]. And those of you over eighteen will go either to Gander Hill Prison or the woman's correctional facility. Any questions?"

Shaffer decided to leave with her friends.

Galperin and Rocek decided to stay.

"That's it," he told them, according to Galperin. "You're under arrest. Give me your ID. You're going to prison."

Sergeant DiJiacomo led the two out to his police car.

"You're going to embarrass your families," he told them, she recalls. "Your names are going to be all over the paper." And he told them they wouldn't be able to get into college.

He told Rocek to put her hands on the squad car, and then told both of them to call their parents and tell them to bring "at least $1,000 in bail money," Galperin says.

Galperin reached her father, an attorney.

"I told my dad, 'I'm under arrest for expressing dissenting opinions.'"

Her father asked to speak to the sergeant.

"Your dad says get out of here," the sergeant told her, she says. "He'll meet you at home. " He banned them from the store and mall, she sags.

And so they both left.

By this time, Hannah Shaffer managed to reach her mother, Heidi, on the phone, who was planning on going to the event anyway.

"She came and said whoever wants to return to the bookstore should come with her and we would talk respectfully to the police officer and to Barnes & Noble about why they had kicked us out and threatened to arrest us," Shaffer says.

"Six or seven of the braver kids got in the car and we drove back over to the parking lot of Barnes & Noble," she recalls. "We were standing outside in the parking lot and my mother went into the store to find out what happened. Just as she entered, the officer came out, and he saw us, and he drove over in his car very fast."

He was not happy.

"You're under arrest. Get into the car," he said, according to Shaffer.

"But my mom took us over here and wanted to speak to you."

"Do I look like your mother? You're not wanted here. You had your chance. You showed up again. Now you're under arrest."

Instead of arresting them, though, he threatened them once more and told them never to go to the bookstore or the mall again.

At that point, he let Shaffer and the other young women leave.

"I was pretty upset," Shaffer says.

So was her mother when she came out of the store and heard what happened.

"I actually tried to talk humanely to the policeman," she says. "He told me if I took any of the underage kids in, I would be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor."

Heidi Shaffer says she is most upset about the strong-arm tactics of Sergeant DiJiacomo. "One of the girls came home and was hysterical for about two days," she says. "Some even were afraid to tell their parents. That this hired gun can say whatever he wants and terrorize these kids is very, very scary. This is unconscionable."

Sergeant DiJiacomo did not return my phone calls seeking comment in the days after the incident.

"From all indications that we have, he handled his duties and responsibilities appropriately," said Lieutenant Joseph Aviola, director of public affairs for the Delaware State Police.

At Barnes & Noble's headquarters, Mary Ellen Keating, senior vice president for corporate communications and public affairs, denies that the store had anything to do with it.

On May 30, 2006, Galperin, Rocek, Hannah Shaffer, Heidi Shaffer, along with one minor, sued Sergeant DiJiacomo. They also sued Jane Doe, an unidentified "member of Senator Santorum's promotional team." They are seeking "redress for the deprivation of their First and Fourth Amendment rights and for the emotional distress caused by Sergeant DiJiacomo's false arrest and unlawful threats," the lawsuit says.

The suit says DiJiacomo deprived the plaintiffs of their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom to petition for redress of grievances. By arresting Galperin and Rocek, DiJiacomo deprived them of their Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizure, the suit says.

Santorum's promotional team member engaged in a conspiracy to violate the plaintiffs' rights, the suit says, "by using the apparent authority of Defendant DiJiacomo to threaten Plaintiffs with arrest, eject them from the Store, and arrest Plaintiffs Galperin and Rocek, solely because of their political views and without probable cause."

"There were no arrests made," says Ralph Durstein, deputy attorney general for the State of Delaware, who is representing Sergeant DiJiacomo. "Mark DiJiacomo more or less tried to serve as an intermediary between the campaign folks and the manager of the Barnes & Noble on the one side and some pretty unhappy folks on the other who had hoped to engage in dialogue. As far as the lawsuit is concerned, the claim really should be directed at the Jane Doe defendant, who was working for the Senator and who attempted to confine the conditions under which the Senator would appear."

Senator Santorum's spokesperson, Virginia Davis, would not comment publicly about it and referred all questions to ISI, the publisher of the book.

Douglas Schneider, director of institutional marketing for ISI, said none of his employees were there, so "ISI has no comment on any legal action pertaining to this event."

Barnes & Noble had nothing to do with the alleged violation of rights, says the lawsuit, brought by the Delaware and Pennsylvania affiliates of the ACLU. "No Barnes & Noble employee or agent ever instructed Defendant DiJiacomo to have Plaintiffs ejected," the lawsuit says. "No Barnes & Noble employee or agent ever instructed Plaintiffs to leave the store."

The plaintiffs are seeking an admission that their rights were violated, attorneys' fees, and "nominal, compensatory, and punitive damages in an amount to be proven at trial."

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive. For a compendium of McCarthyism Watch stories, go to www.progressive.org.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:"It Takes a Family" by Rick Santorum
Author:Rothschild, Matthew
Publication:The Progressive
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2006
Words:1371
Previous Article:Bosses and bossism.
Next Article:Guantanamo must go.
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