CHARLESTON - A Texas couple arrested and charged with trespassing during a 2004 rally at the state Capitol has been awarded $80,000 from the federal government.
Nicole and Jeffery Rank, of Corpus Christi, Texas, were arrested after they refused to cover their homemade T-shirts that had anti-Bush slogans on them, and held in police custody for between one and two hours.
A lawsuit was filed on their behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union.
"This settlement is a real victory not only for our clients but for the First Amendment," Andrew Schneider, the executive director of the ACLU of West Virginia, said in a news release. "As a result of the Rank's courageous stand, public officials will think twice before they eject peaceful protestors from public events for exercising their right to dissent."
The front of the T-shirts bore the symbol for "no," superimposed over the word "Bush." The back of Nicole Rank's shirt said, "Love America, Hate Bush." The back of then-Republican Jeffery Rank's shirt said, "Regime Change Starts at Home."