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Democrats face threats, vandalism over health care vote

By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS
March 25, 2010

Capitol Hill cop on duty in Washington Wednesday (AFP)

Democratic Congress members are getting lessons from the FBI on how to handle threats such as several directed at their colleagues, including bricks hurled through windows and menacing obscenity-laced phone messages left for those who supported sweeping federal health care legislation.

Windows were shattered at four Democratic offices in New York, Arizona and Kansas and at least 10 members of Congress have reported some sort of threats, leaders said. No arrests had been made as of Wednesday, but the FBI is investigating.

Lawmakers who feel they are at risk will be “getting attention from the proper authorities,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who denounced the threats and vandalism at a news conference. He declined to say whether any are receiving extra security. Normally only those in leadership positions have personal security guards.

The brick flung through the window of a county Democratic Party office in Rochester, N.Y., over the weekend had a note attached: “Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice,” roughly quoting 1964 Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater.

A New York congresswoman whose office window also was smashed with a brick accused the Republican leadership of failing to denounce attacks against lawmakers. The vandalism happened at Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter’s district office in Niagara Falls early Friday, two days before the House passed the health care overhaul bill.

“It’s more disturbing to me that Republican leadership has not condemned these attacks and instead appears to be fanning the flames with coded rhetoric,” said Slaughter, a key supporter of the bill.

House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio said in a statement that while many Americans are angry over the bill’s passage, “violence and threats are unacceptable.”

“That’s not the American way,” Boehner said. “We need to take that anger and channel it into positive change.”

Some of the anger spilled over in a flood of obscenity and threat-filled phone and fax messages to the office of Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich. Stupak vowed to oppose the health care package unless given greater assurance that it would not allow federal funding of elective abortions. He voted in favor after the administration agreed.

Stupak’s office released some of the messages, declining further comment.

“I hope you bleed … (get) cancer and die,” one male caller told the congressman between curses.

A fax with the title “Defecating on Stupak” carried a picture of a gallows with “Bart (SS) Stupak” on it and a noose attached. It was captioned, “All Baby Killers come to unseemly ends Either by the hand of man or by the hand of God.”

The vandalism and threats surprised a researcher at a think tank that monitors extremist groups.

“I think it is astounding that we are seeing this wave of vigilantism,” said Mark Potok of the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center.

Hoyer said people have yelled that Democratic lawmakers should be put on firing lines and posters have appeared with the faces of lawmakers in the cross hairs of a target.

While not directly criticizing Republicans, Hoyer said that “any show of appreciation for such actions encourages such action.”

Gun imagery was used in a posting on the Facebook page of Sarah Palin urging people to organize against 20 House Democrats who voted for the health care bill and whose districts went for the John McCain-Palin ticket two years ago. Palin’s post featured a U.S. map with circles and cross hairs over the 20 districts.

In Virginia, someone cut a propane line leading to a grill at the Charlottesville home of U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello‘s brother after the address was posted online by activists angry about the health care overhaul. Perriello also said a threatening letter was sent to his brother’s house. The FBI and local authorities were investigating.

Tea party activists had posted the brother’s address online thinking it was the congressman’s home. The post urged opponents to drop by and “express their thanks” for the Democrat’s vote in favor of the sweeping health care reform.

Nigel Coleman, chairman of the Danville Tea Party, said he re-posted the comment that originated on another conservative blog, including the address, Monday on his Facebook page. The posts were taken down after the mistake was discovered.

“We’ve never been associated with any violence or any vandalism,” he said. “We’re definitely sorry that we posted the incorrect address.”

Lyndsay Stauble, executive director of the Sedgwick County Democratic Party in Wichita, Kan., said a brick was hurled through the party’s storefront plate glass window late Friday or early Saturday, landing in her office and gouging her wooden desk.

She said that written in marker on the brick were the slogans, “No to Obama” and “No Obamycare.”

“The tone is not surprising, but the aggressiveness is,” Stauble said Wednesday. “I’m not shocked that people are not reacting well to a large piece of legislation passed by a president that they don’t like.”

___

Associated Press writers David N. Goodman in Detroit, Dena Potter and Bob Lewis in Richmond, Va., Ben Dobbin in Rochester, N.Y., Mark Carlson in Phoenix and Laurie Kellman in Washington contributed to this report.

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14 Responses to Democrats face threats, vandalism over health care vote

  1. AustinRanter (AKA Gregg)

    March 25, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    What happened to voting polticians out of office? Can’t go to jail for doing that.

    Nothing like brewing tea in prision while bubba holds your tea pot.

  2. woody188

    March 25, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Looks like the Obama/Gordon Brown labeled “Summer of Rage” has come one summer later than they anticipated. All it took was stealing more money from the middle class that they don’t have. I’m rather surprised by their surprise.

    • Guardhouse lawyer

      March 25, 2010 at 7:52 pm

      Perhaps they have trouble believing that we have allowed ourselves to stoop so low as to use violence rather than civil discourse, something that happens to be in short supply around here.

      • Almandine

        March 25, 2010 at 8:38 pm

        Government is the prime instrument of violence, and as far as our govt is concerned, there is NO shortage of it.

  3. b mcclellan

    March 25, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Perhaps it’s easier to create a mob than to share the spoils?

  4. Almandine

    March 25, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Did you ever wonder how we came to have guards armed with assault rifles stationed on the steps of our most honored public buildings?

    Is there not a message there about the people who reside in those buildings?

    Do you have or need sentry’s positioned outside your home or business?

    The whole thing sounds kinda Al Capone like, eh?

  5. Odo

    March 25, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Der Tea Baggen Volken hast Gesprochen Ja!

    • Almandine

      March 25, 2010 at 10:24 pm

      Nicht! Nicht! Nicht!

  6. woody188

    March 26, 2010 at 1:50 am

    They are seriously scared about losing control. Did you notice how the corporate news feeds changed over the course of the day and which information was added and dropped?

  7. b mcclellan

    March 26, 2010 at 2:51 am

    Never begin the fight ever further from their fear and frailty Woody.
    I think Al sneezed.
    There will be sneezing and unchallenged logic accompanied by eye see a flood of doin what they do.
    Here’s a bone, Carper for Biden, what side of mild insanity within reveals but deal makers , nation squeezers,
    What the hell are we pomegranate’s ?

  8. Bill Cravener

    March 27, 2010 at 1:53 am

    The desperation of the GOP and their follows now has intellectual midgets like Limbaugh and Beck parading the lunatic base supporters such as the Tea Baggers around and giving them plenty of hateraid to nourish their pea-sized brains. It’s disgusting to watch this ignorance but comforting to know it’s the end for these brain dead bigots. Should Rush Limbaugh be taken seriously? Or should we just view him as a dough boy with a yeast infection bouncing up and down and up and down to relieve his itch for violence. His itch to have others fight his battles while he remains safely behind his golden microphone flaming the fires for domestic terror. Sounds like that fellow Osama bin Laden to me.

    • griff

      March 27, 2010 at 1:58 am

      My you’re an offensive fellow, aren’t you?

  9. Bill Cravener

    March 27, 2010 at 6:32 am

    Michael J Griffith,

    I have never thrown out one single school yard taunt at another forum poster as you regulars seem to enjoy doing when you disagree with the opinion of another poster or an author of an article here on Capital Hill Blue. It is offensive and small minded.

    However, if I am taunted in a child like manner simply because my opinion differs from your own or because I agree with an author’s statement I shall return said school yard taunt with one of my own.

    That’s also a go when another poster is taunted by one of you regulars. Why it is you folks can not tolerant a differing point of view is beyond me. It can only mean an immaturity or an ignorance of proper decorum when posting on internet forums.

    I am puzzled that Doug Thompson has not yet booted some of you out of his most respected website. It’s as if you regulars enjoy belittling those posters that disagree with you. Sad, very sad. . .

    • griff

      March 27, 2010 at 8:49 am

      Awww shucks Bill, what’s the matter? Can’t handle your own words thrown back at you? Mustn’t stir the pot, lest you have a taste for what’s cooking yourself.