A University of Louisville student who is the chairman of the school's Student Nonviolence Coordinating Committee is being investigated by the Secret Service for a statement advocating violence against President Bush.
The student, 21-year-old Phillip Bailey, posted a message on the Web site The SOULution in which he said New Orleans residents who were taking necessary items after Hurricane Katrina should shoot at anyone who gets in their way, according to a Louisville Courier-Journal report.
"I say take everything you can to keep you and your family alive, because it took the government five long days to bring fresh food and water. ... I say shoot every cop, national guard and politician who stands in your way, INCLUDING GEORGE W. BUSH if need be," Bailey wrote in his posting Monday, responding to a suggestion from another poster that looters should be shot.
The Secret Service said it is up to the U.S. Attorney's Office to determine whether Bailey should be charged with the crime of making threats against the president, which carries a five-year prison term. Bailey met with Secret Service agents on Tuesday and told the Courier-Journal that he doesn't regret his posting.
"In that context, it was fitting," Bailey said, explaining that he was trying to say that it's understandable for people to fight for survival, but that he was not advocating violence. "I'm advocating that people defend themselves and survive."
The comments were posted and criticized on the local Fraternal Order of Police Web site, and FOP President Richard Dotson said one of his members alerted the union leadership, who reported the posting to the Secret Service.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's a direct threat against authority. We're concerned that someone out there might believe the remarks of this man," Dotson told the Courier-Journal, referring to Bailey as "an idiot."
In light of the flap, the Editorial Board of the SOULution site posted a defense of Bailey's comments: "Mr. Bailey's comments represent the freedom of speech granted to each citizen of this nation. We stand by our brother 100 percent, and his comments. ... Those wishing to portray Phillip Bailey in a negative light must deal with not one individual, but a movement that will continue to push the envelope of the status quo on an intelligent level. We urge all of our readers to be sure of all of the facts in this case and to view our message board, and see for themselves what was said in the context of the conversation."
Bailey is a regular contributor to the campus newspaper, the Louisville Cardinal, and has been involved in local efforts to fight violence in Louisville, according to the Courier-Journal. He believes that his words are being misconstrued in an effort to discredit him.
University professor Ricky Jones supported Bailey, saying his comments have been blown out of proportion.
"Phillip Bailey is not a terrorist," Jones said. "Phillip Bailey is not a presidential assassin nor a potential presidential assassin."