Activist Charged In 'Osama' Stunt

South Portland defense lawyer Tom Connolly sits in the back of a police car after being arrested at gunpoint in this Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006 file photo, in South Portland, Maine. Connolly, the Democratic lawyer who donned an Osama bin Laden costume replete with toy assault rifle to make a political statement on Halloween, is facing additional charges over the incident, officials said Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006.
A Democratic activist who was arrested after he was spotted on a highway overpass dressed as Osama bin Laden on Halloween faces additional charges for the stunt.

Tom Connolly was charged Wednesday with terrorizing and reckless conduct, in addition to the original charge of criminal threatening, prosecutor Stephanie Anderson said. All three charges are misdemeanors.

"Halloween or not, in this day and age you do not get to dress as an international terrorist and wave what appears to be an AK-47 at rush-hour traffic," Anderson said.

Police responded to calls from motorists on Interstate 295 about a man on an overpass wearing a white robe and carrying a fake assault rifle. The costume included a rubber mask, plastic dynamite and grenades, in addition to the toy assault rifle. Before he was arrested, Connolly walked toward officers as plastic grenades tumbled onto the ground, an officer said.

Anderson said Connolly created an "incredibly dangerous" situation for motorists, for police — and for himself. "He's lucky he didn't get shot," she said.

Connolly's lawyer, Daniel Knight, said Wednesday there was no mistaking Connolly for a terrorist on Halloween.

"His protest involved a plastic squirt gun that was not used in any menacing manner whatsoever while Tom was in a costume on Halloween," Knight said.

Furthermore, he said, Connolly was holding a sign with a political statement about the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, which was defeated by voters Nov. 7. Police said at least one person who saw a sign held by Connolly thought it said "Taliban."

Connolly, 49, a defense lawyer, made headlines when he divulged President Bush's drunken-driving arrest days before the 2000 election. During the Democratic Convention, Connolly passed out "W is for Wiener" buttons. He also has been known to don a George W. Bush mask and dance for passing motorists.

Anderson, a Republican, said Connolly probably would have been charged even if he was wearing a George Washington costume instead of an Osama bin Laden costume. The problem, she said, was that the gun looked real and that he pointed it at people.

Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail, but a lengthy jail term was unlikely, Anderson said. A trial was scheduled for Dec. 19.