BRATTLEBORO, Vt. – A town petition making President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney subject to arrest for crimes against the Constitution has triggered a barrage of criticism from people who say residents are "wackjobs" and "nuts."
In e-mail messages, voicemail messages and telephone calls, outraged people are calling the measure the equivalent of treason and vowing never to visit Vermont.
"Has everyone up there been out in the cold too long?" said one.
"I would like to know how I could get some water from your town," said another. "It's obvious that there is something special in it."
The petition — with more than 436 signatures, or at least the 5 percent of voters necessary to be considered — was submitted Thursday and the town Select Board voted 3-2 Friday to put it on the ballot. It goes to a town-wide vote March 4.
It reads: "Shall the Selectboard instruct the Town Attorney to draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against our Constitution, and publish said indictments for consideration by other authorities and shall it be the law of the Town of Brattleboro that the Brattleboro Police, pursuant to the above-mentioned indictments, arrest and detain George Bush and Richard Cheney in Brattleboro if they are not duly impeached, and prosecute or extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them?"
News of the measure made the rounds on the Internet, and soon people started calling and writing. The Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce got about 60 e-mails Monday, all of them negative, said Executive Director Jerry Goldberg.
A day later, he said, "we had three or four calls in a row that were very positive. One even volunteered to help."
The petition has no legal standing, since the town attorney has no authority to write an indictment and the police have no authority to arrest Bush or Cheney if either visits Brattleboro.
Anger at the Bush administration is hardly new in Vermont. The state Senate voted last year to support impeaching the president. Anti-war rallies are regular occurrences, and "Impeach Bush" bumper stickers are common.
The petition prompted Brent Caflisch to go to his computer in Rosemount, Minn. "Maybe the terrorists will do us all a favor and attack your town next, our country would be much safer with several thousand dead wackjobs in Vermont," he wrote.
It went on to say terrorists could kidnap the three Select Board members who voted in favor, "cut their heads off, video tape it and put it on the internet."
Caflisch, who confirmed sending the e-mail, said Tuesday he did it out of disgust after reading about the measure on The Drudge Report.
A few messages were positive ("Arrest Bush and Cheney? You go, Brattleboro!" wrote one man) but most were critical.
"Be American, not a sniffeling liberal town that sleeps under the shield of safety provided to you by your President," said another e-mail. "Vacation to VT CANCELLED!"
The reaction caught town officials off guard, and left some workers on edge.
"We have some concerns about safety," said Town Clerk Annette Cappy. "After reading some of these e-mails, you can't help it."
Acting Police Chief Eugene Wrinn said any threats would be taken seriously and possibly prosecuted. So far, no threats have been made, he said.
"If someone is concerned for their safety, if there's a threat of harm, we will look at that seriously," he said.
Resident Kurt Daims, who submitted the petition, said late Tuesday he was chagrined that the town and its employees were subject to ridicule.
"I feel bad for people who are loyal to Bush who have lost a son or had one in the service and it's hard for them to admit the utter waste of it, and that it was caused by this man in the White House," he said.