Pubdate: Wed, 20 Jun 2018
Source: Kansas City Star (MO)
Copyright: 2018 The Kansas City Star
Author: Kaitlyn Alanis


A medical marijuana activist in Oklahoma says the county sheriff
forcibly escorted him out of a forum, but the sheriff says he thinks
the scuffle was an "orchestrated" deal with an attempt to rattle law

Chip Paul, co-founder of Oklahomans for Health, said he was attending
a forum about the proposed legislation for legalizing medical
marijuana when he was forced out by Rogers County Sheriff Scott
Walton. The organization is the official proponent of legalizing
medical cannabis in Oklahoma through State Question 788.

Paul told the Tulsa World that he was sitting in the back of the
meeting with two deputies behind him. At one point, he said he turned
around and said he was frustrated with the information being
presented. The sheriff's office had posted to Facebook that the Monday
forum would help attendees "become familiar with the absolute facts."

"He grabbed me and was in my face, saying, 'If this is frustrating,
you can get out,'" Paul told the Tulsa World. He then said he'd be

"That's when (Walton) grabbed me by the neck and proceeded to escort
me from the building," he told the newspaper. "He rammed my head into
a door -- I don't know if that was purposeful or not."

A video of the incident was posted to Facebook and shows Paul being
escorted out by deputies. Another video uploaded by NonDoc Media, and
recorded by Paul's wife, shows Paul is being escorted with a hand
around the back of his neck. Paul's head hits the first set of double
doors, but it is not clear whether he was pushed into the door or he
did it himself.

Walton told The Claremore Daily Progress that he had been standing at
the back of the room because "there were people talking and laughing,
raising their hands, interrupting."

But when Paul continued to talk after being asked to wait for the
discussion period, Walton said he asked him to go in the hallway, the
Daily Progress Reported. Walton told the newspaper that Paul ignored
his request.

"He turned around and started talking again. I got a hold of his chair
and turned him around, just a quarter of a turn, where he didn't have
his back to me," Walton told the Daily Progress. "I said 'we need to
talk.' He folded his hands and put them in his lap ... I get a hold of
him, not in a choke hold or anything, but by the head and neck to
escort him out."

That's when Paul says his head was rammed into the door.

"I know there are cameras all over the place, I'm not going to put his
head through the door," Walton told the Daily Progress. "I wasn't
going to take him outside and beat him up. But he balks at the
dooraE&. I honestly think, and no one will believe me on this, but I
think he pushed his head forward on purpose ... I think they
orchestrated this whole deal to get us as rattled as they could."

Walton told KJRH that he has no regrets about what happened and that
he knew he was being recorded. He said Paul had to be removed because
he was being disruptive.

Paul says that isn't true.

"I feel like, in my mind, he assaulted me," Paul told the Tulsa World.
"I was doing nothing. I have as much right to be there as he does."

Now, he said he plans to consider his legal options, according to the
Daily Progress.

"I still feel his hands on my throat, to be honest with you," Paul
told KJRH. "It's not leaving marks clearly but I still feel his hands
on my throat. I certainly still feel the bump on my head where they
ran me through the door."

Walton told the TV station he grabbed Paul by this throat because of
the way he was sitting.

"It was effective. It worked," Walton told KJRK. "I had a lot of other
options on ways to remove him from there. All would have been a lot
more forceful than what was utilized there."

ACLU of Oklahoma said in a statement to KFOR that "the violent actions
of the Rogers County Sheriff signal a disturbing reliance on
government force to silence political speech."

The organization said "with the unwarranted, violent removal of Mr.
Paul from a public forum, the Sheriff's actions have become criminal."
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