62-year-old woman to file claims after arrested while wearing 'I can't breathe' shirt outside Tulsa Trump rally

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Art teacher arrested outside Tulsa Trump rally plans to file suit
Sheila Buck was arrested outside the Trump Rally in Tulsa, Okla. on Sunday while she was praying and wearing a t-shirt that said "I can't breathe." The Art teacher claims plans to file claims against the Trump Campaign and the city of Tulsa.

TULSA, Okla. (KGO) -- Sheila Buck, a Tulsa, Okla. resident says she is planning to file claims against the Trump Campaign and the city of Tulsa after she was arrested outside the Trump campaign rally on Saturday.

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The 62-year-old was seen outside the BOK Center in Tulsa wearing a t-shirt that said "I can't breathe" and another shirt over her head as a makeshift hood. Buck said she reserved a ticket to the rally and also had plans to attend a Black Lives Matter protest after.

The Tulsa resident showed her tickets to the police and stepped into the barricaded area of the event outside the center. Buck then knelt to pray and that's when she says police took her to the side told her she was not supposed to be there.

Dan Smolen, Buck's attorney says the police didn't give a reason for why she was asked to leave.

"Nothing prohibited her from wearing what she was wearing and like she said, she intended on going later in the day to another event," Smolen said.

After the arrest, the Tulsa Police Department released a statement, saying:

"This morning at 11:30 a.m. Tulsa Police were requested by Trump Campaign Staff to remove an individual from the secure area of the rally. Tulsa Police spoke to the arrestee, Ms. Buck, for several minutes trying to convince her to leave on her own accord. There is some confusion about the area Ms. Buck was arrested. Ms. Buck was in an area that is considered a private event area and the event organizer, in this case, the Trump Campaign, can have people removed at their discretion."

Smolen says Buck's arrest was unlawful, violating her First Amendmendment rights.

"I think what was important about the situation is that she had a ticket to the event, that the area at which she was arrested was a city street, it was not in a private area, there was no permitting that was taken up by the Trump Campaign to make that street a private part of the event," Smolen says. "You have a citizen of Tulsa who's in a shirt that says, 'I can't breathe,' and she's arrested for that on a city street, two blocks away from her home because the Trump Campaign didn't like the message that it sent."

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Smolen says the campaign either didn't like her shirt or that she was kneeling to pray.

"We're going to write claims against the Trump Campaign and then we're going to write claims for the city of Tulsa for the arrest," Smolen says. "It's a violation of her First Amendment rights, freedom of speech which is a cornerstone principle, that she was praying, again to be arrested for that is a violation of her First Amendment rights. "

Watch full interview with Sheila Buck and her attorney Dan Smolen in the media player above.