- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 3, 2009


In America, school security guards don’t get to revise the First Amendment to suit their whims. Nobody does.

But that’s exactly what happened at a Reston town-hall meeting sponsored by Alexandria Democratic Rep. James P. Moran last week. Fairfax County Public School Security Officer Wesley Cheeks Jr. took it upon himself to decide that one sign — among a panoply found outside the event — crossed the line.

Mr. Cheeks’ crime is not just that he merrily violated the free-speech rights of one sign holder critical of President Obama, but that he did it while declaring to the world that he just didn’t care about his responsibility. There’s no debating what happened; it’s on YouTube for all to see.

When reminded of his obligation to the Constitution, Mr. Cheeks invoked the classic “I am just doing my job” justification invariably used by those who are doing no such thing. The guard arrogantly informed onlookers that his word was enough to have the sign removed. If the sign remained, its holder would find himself charged with trespassing.

As a last effort to protect his speech rights, the unidentified sign holder argued, “This is America.” Such a fact was trivial in the face of Mr. Cheeks’ self-important reply, “It ain’t no more.” In Fairfax County, the power of a security guard knows no bounds.

So what was the security guard’s job? One thing it wasn’t was sign enforcement. According to a Fairfax County Schools spokesman, there are no rules about signs except for candidates on Election Day. Needless to say, vanishing few elections are held in Virginia on warm August evenings, and Mr. Obama won’t be on the ballot again for three years.

Now comes the obligatory investigation. “We’re taking all allegations of employee misconduct seriously,” said schools spokesman Mary Shaw. “We’re carrying out a comprehensive investigation about the incident.”

With video of the incident freely available, an investigation seems beside the point. All Mr. Cheeks needs is a little remedial civics lesson. How convenient that he works in a school.

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