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Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - Page updated at 01:24 P.M.

Eastern Washington teen's sketches attract Secret Service scrutiny

By The Associated Press

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PROSSER, Benton County — Secret Service agents questioned a high-school student here about anti-war drawings he turned in to his art teacher.

One of them depicted President Bush's head on a stick.

Another pencil-and-ink drawing depicted Bush as a devil launching a missile, with a caption reading "End the war — on terrorism."

The 15-year-old boy's art teacher turned the drawings over to school administrators, who notified a police officer assigned to work with the school.

"We involve the police anytime we have a concern," Prosser Superintendent Ray Tolcacher told the Tri-City Herald.

"From our perspective, it was an incident that needed to be reported to the police on campus."

Secret Service agents interviewed the boy Friday. The student, who was not arrested, has not been identified.

The school district disciplined him, but district officials declined to say what the punishment was. Tolcacher said the boy was not suspended. Tolcacher insisted it was not a freedom-of-speech issue but a concern over the depiction of violence.

"From what I saw, (school officials) were right to be concerned," Prosser Police Chief Win Taylor said.

The artwork was apparently part of an assignment to keep a notebook of drawings, according to Kevin Cravens of Richland, who said he was a family friend of the boy who was investigated.

The drawing that drew the most attention showed a man in what appeared to be Middle Eastern-style clothing, holding a rifle. He also was holding a stick with the oversize head of President Bush on it. The student said the head was enlarged because it was intended to be an effigy, Cravens said. The caption called for an end to the war in Iraq.
 
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The boy's mother declined to talk with The Seattle Times last night. The Secret Service did not return the Herald's calls for comment, and a message left by The Associated Press with an after-hours duty officer in Washington, D.C., was not immediately returned yesterday.

"If this 15-year-old kid in Prosser is perceived as a threat to the president, then we are living in '1984.' " Cravens said.

Seattle Times staff reporter Nguyen Huy Vu contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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