A writer for a small Georgia newspaper who wanted to give President Barack Obama a letter was forcibly removed from a press area near Air Force One on Thursday shortly before he arrived at the airport.
Airport security officers carried the woman away by the feet and arms as she protested her removal. She was then allowed to leave. She said the letter she had written was opposing gay marriage.
She later identified herself as Brenda Lee, a writer for the Georgia Informer in Macon, and said she is a “Roman Catholic priestess” who lives in Anaheim, Calif. She said she has White House press credentials.
The newspaper’s Web site says it is a monthly publication; the site has writings by Lee posted. A call to the newspaper was not immediately returned.
The White House had no comment, said deputy press secretary Josh Earnest in Washington.
The incident occurred about 10 minutes before Obama arrived at Los Angeles International Airport by helicopter to board Air Force One. He had been in Los Angeles to attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Beverly Hills on Wednesday.
Lee said later in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that she wanted to hand Obama a letter urging him “to take a stand for traditional marriage.”
She said she asked a Secret Service agent to give the president her letter, but he refused and referred her to a White House staffer. Lee said she refused to give the staffer the letter.
“I said, ‘I’ll take my chances if (the president) comes by here,’” said Lee. “He became annoyed that I wouldn’t give him the letter.”
Lee said she protested when she was asked to leave.
“I said, ‘Why are you bothering me?’ They escorted me outside the gate,” she said. She said security officers allowed her to return when she promised she would not yell or wave, but then other officers arrived and told her to leave.
“I said, ‘I’m not leaving,’” she said. “They tried to drag me out.”
Two officers then picked her up and carried her out. An Associated Press photographer photographed the incident.
“I was afraid you could see under my clothes,” she said, her voice choking up.
Lee, who said this was the second presidential event she has covered, was later released.