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Bush protesters claim arrests unwarranted

One of the two protesters who were arrested during President Bush's visit Thursday was a Jacksonville man who says he was sitting on a sidewalk and had refused to comply with police orders to move.

Quinn Barker, 27, said Saturday he has no ill feelings toward police who snatched him from the sidewalk, handcuffed him and put him inside a patrol car. He said he believes officers in riot gear overstepped their authority when they confronted protesters and forced them to move to another area.

I thought it was unjust ' taking away our right to protest, Barker said. I sat down on the sidewalk and (police) kept saying 'Back up.' I kept asking, 'Why?'

It just didn't make sense to me. We had a great, democratic protest and everybody stayed on the sidewalk ... It was all peaceful.

Barker spent three hours in the Jackson County Jail before his girlfriend bailed him out. He faces a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct and is due to appear in Jackson County Circuit Court on Oct. 25, according to court records.

— Also arrested during the protest was a Talent man, Thaddeus Hust, 32. Hust said he sat down on the sidewalk alongside Barker, but declined further comment until he obtains an attorney.

Hust faces misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He also spent about three hours behind bars before being bailed out. Hust is scheduled to appear in Circuit Court on Oct. 26.

Police said in a news release that Secret Service agents requested assistance for a safe and secure setting in Jacksonville when Bush arrived there Thursday night following a speech at the Jackson County fairgrounds.

Police said most protesters cooperated with orders to clear the sidewalk between Third and Fifth streets, but about five males who became aggressive had to be pushed back by members of the Mobile Response Team, which includes Jackson County sheriff's deputies and Oregon State Police troopers.

Several protesters, including Barker's roommate Michael Moss, 29, were reportedly shot by pepper balls fired by members of the MRT squad.

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Barker, whose photo appeared on the front page of Friday's , said he did not witness any aggressive behavior. He said he also missed seeing anyone being shot with pepper balls.

Although he feels protesters' right to peacefully assemble was violated, Barker said police were friendly with him following his arrest.

They were pretty nice, actually, he said.

Reach reporter Jack Moran at 776-4459, or e-mail .