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Smear: SEIU Thugs Roughed Up Anti-Reform Americans At Town Halls

September 17, 2009 9:56 am ET

Several conservative media outlets have reported that SEIU "thugs" caused violence at health care town halls during August 2009.


SEIU "thugs" went to August health care town halls to intimidate and rough up citizens.


Rush Limbaugh via Free Republic
O'Reilly Factor


The New York Times blog reported:

"Let's start with something that comes as close to documentary truth as we have at the moment: a homemade video taken outside a town hall meeting held by Representative Russ Carnahan, Democrat of Missouri, showing a fracas between conservative 'tea party' advocates and members of the Service Employees International Union.

So, what happened? The St. Louis Post Dispatch's report indicated that 'Kenneth Gladney, a 38-year-old conservative activist from St. Louis, said he was attacked by some of those arrested as he handed out yellow flags with 'Don't tread on me' printed on them ... 'It just seems there's no freedom of speech without being attacked,' he said.'

According to John Hinderaker at Power Line, it is 'shocking video of union thugs - self-identified by their t-shirts - attacking peaceful 'tea party' protesters last night in St. Louis.'

Eric Kleefeld at Talking Points Memo thinks both sides are to blame: 'It's not at all clear who started it and both sides appear to be blaming the other ... Both the Tea Party and labor union folks are yelling at each other.'

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post thinks it's 'ugly stuff,' but offers no guidance on which side is uglier.

Archpundit of Blog Saint Louis, however, feel the anti-reform forces were the real aggressors:

The video only starts at the end of the incident so it's unclear what started it. At best what you have is two guys attacking a third guy.That's bad and if true the two guys will be prosecuted which is the right answer. Hours of taunts and verbal [assaults] by SEIU and ACORN? Not so much ... [Tea party advocates] can try and play the victims here, but let's be very clear, they aren't there for discussion or dialogue - they are there to be disruptive. They are angry bitter people and that's really quite sad.

For what it's worth, the Opinionator sees a man on the ground (wearing an S.E.I.U. shirt?) as the footage starts, then a bit of shouting, and then a man in an S.E.I.U. shirt grabs a man (one supposes it is Mr. Gladney) from behind and pull him down. Near the end, that assailant is handcuffed by the police...

The right-wing blogger Digger sums it up thusly:

You will see that members of ACORN or the SEIU are let into the doors while hundreds of protesters opposed to Carnahan's support of universal health care were barred from entering. The Democrats have recently resorted to the tactic of trying to claim that all of those opposed to universal health care are being bussed in and are 'astroturf' - fake grassroots people - who are being paid by the insurance industry, but as the video below clearly shows these union thugs and community organizing groups are the ones busing people in.

Doug Mataconis of Below the Beltway plays the centrist: 'I fail to see what either side thinks they're accomplishing here.'

And myiq2xu of the Confluence tries to get both sides of the story: 'Apparently the people who were standing outside in line got upset when they discovered that SEIU members were being admitted through a side door. Depending on who you believe the SEIU people were there to set up or they had reserved seats down front.'

But TPM's founder, Josh Marshall, sees nothing wrong with the union-members-only admission. 'I have an unconfirmed report that what touched off the outburst at the St. Louis event was that after the doors had been shut, two SEIU employees who were staffing the event (SEIU was a sponsor) came to the door and were allowed in,' he writes. 'This provoked the teabag contingent, who believed this was prima facie evidence of discrimination against their political views.' He adds: 'In post-event retellings on the right fire code enforcement became a form of political repression of teabaggers.'


So there you have it: the Great Health Care Reform Debate of 2009 isn't about health care at all. It all boils down to reserved seating, artificial grass, clean chinos and, of course, race."


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