An evangelical Christian family has received a $25,000 check from the state of Oregon to settle a lawsuit over a state trooper's response to their protest of the Iraq war.
David and Suzanne Brownlow have a son stationed in Iraq, and say they are fighting to bring him home. A portion of the settlement money will be used to fund a campaign to convince other evangelicals to stop supporting the war, the Brownlows said.
"About the only group left supporting this war is the evangelicals," David Brownlow said. "Our focus is on evangelicals and the message that they have lost their way."
Last year, the Brownlows and their 12-year-old daughter were on a sidewalk in Clackamas waving a flag that read "Support Our Troops Bring Them Home," so the traffic on the interstate below could see.
The Brownlows said a state trooper approached them, told them they were breaking the law and threatened to arrest them if they did not leave.
According to their complaint, when they asked what laws were broken, Senior Trooper Ken Moore told them: "When a trooper tells you 'You are breaking the law,' that is all you need to know."
The Brownlows said they were not breaking any laws and declined to move.
Then, they say, the trooper grabbed their banner, crushed it and threw it in their vehicle. They went to a nearby parking lot for further questioning. At that point, David Brownlow got a copy of the Oregon Revised Statutes and began reading them. The trooper eventually gave the banner back and allowed the family to leave.
The family later filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Moore.
"We didn't sue them for the money," David Brownlow said. "We sued them to bring some accountability."
The trooper denied the allegations, according to court documents.
Oregon State Police would not comment specifically on the incident but said they conducted an internal review. Based on that, Moore was put on alternate duty for three months. State police spokesman Lt. Gregg Hastings said the organization took "what we believe were appropriate corrective actions."
Brownlow said he and his wife are taking out advertisements in some evangelical publications and giving money to a ministry organization that is walking across America, calling on Christians to end their support for the Iraq occupation.
The Brownlows said they try not to discuss their protest work with their son, saying he is focused on combat and staying alive.
"Our boys (and girls) are in a horrible spot," David Brownlow said. "The most tragic thing we can do is to leave them stranded in combat with no way out and no mission."
Evangelical family settles case over war protest