A federal court in Manhattan agreed Wednesday to drop the charges against Thomas Frampton ’06 in threemonths’ time, provided that Frampton does not commit any additional offenses in the intervening period.
Frampton, who gained national notoriety when he rushed Vice President Dick Cheney at the Republican National Convention in August, was accused of impeding official Secret Service duties and of assaulting a federal officer. The misdemeanor charges carry a maximum one-year prison term, but U.S. Magistrate Debra Freeman elected to hold the charges in abatement for three months while keeping Frampton on probation.
“[Frampton] will be in contact with a probation officer,” U.S. Attorney’s office spokesman Herb Hadad said. “He has to have no marks on his record during that period and he will have travel restrictions.”
Ivy Siwik, a deputy to Judge Freeman, emphasized that the charges against Frampton were not completely dropped but rather deferred, possibly for good.
“The only thing we did was to have the deferred prosecution statement signed,” Siwik said.
Both Frampton and his lawyer, Andrew Ceresney, declined to comment.
Pretending to be a Republican supporter of President Bush, Frampton, one of the most vocal and visible liberal activists on campus, underwent volunteer training sessions with RNC officials for the purpose of gaining entrance to the convention floor.
On Aug. 30, Secret Service agents spotted Frampton carrying a “Bush-Cheney ’04” placard in the walkway behind Cheney’s box and instructed him to keep moving, according to a court complaint filed the next day.
Instead, Frampton turned towards Cheney’s box and chanted anti-administration slogans. He then climbed over a wall separating the walkway from the box, getting to within 10 feet of the vice president before Secret Service agents attempted to physically restrain him. According to the court complaint, Frampton resisted arrest and threw an elbow at an agent. He was then wrestled to the ground and handcuffed.
Secret Service agent Shannon Zeigler said Cheney “was never in harm or danger,” the Associated Press reported.
Frampton was released the next day on $50,000 bail and ordered to stay at least 100 feet away from Cheney and Bush pending his hearing in court.
After Wednesday’s hearing, Yale students registered relief that the case had neared conclusion.
“Without condoning his specific actions, I don’t think Frampton meant much harm,” Yale College Democrats President Nirupam Sinha ’05 said. “Most people would go about protesting in a different way, but he was just protesting. I’m glad the courts and the judicial system realized that as well.”
Alnawaz Jiwa ’06, the president of the Yale College Republicans, said he thought Frampton had overstepped the bounds of protest.
“I’m glad it’s over, although I’m not completely aware of the logic of the court,” Jiwa said. “[Frampton] acted incredibly irresponsibly. The fact that he went after the vice president, tried to assault a Secret Service agent and got off scot-free doesn’t seem appropriate to me, but if the court had a reason, I’m not one to question it.”
Peter Furia ’05, a friend of Frampton’s, said he did not want to comment on legal issues but was pleased with the court’s decision.
“I’m just glad the court reached the appropriate conclusion because he’s a great guy expressing his freedom of speech,” Furia said.