Jesus. First Joe Smith’s security team “arrests” a persistent journalist trying to ask the candidate tough questions. But now, we have people working for the Rand Paul campaign–not just random supporters–tackling a woman who disagreed with the candidate and did nothing more than approach with a sign, pinning her to the ground, and then stomping on her head and neck. Not an exaggeration:
You will note that (a) she never seemed to get within 20 feet of the candidate, maybe not even that close; (b) did nothing illegal or threatening–she just walked up with a satirical sign, and (c) people started getting hysterical, a guy screaming, “WHERE ARE THE POLICE AT??? GET THE POLICE OUT HERE!!! GET THE COPS!!!, someone tearing off her wig, as another guy in a campaign t-shirt helps tackle her, and while she is pinned to the ground, very carefully and intentionally put his foot over her head and neck, then stomped down.
The guy doing the stomping probably would have continued if not for one person–just one in the mob–thought head-stomping was a bit too much, and said, ”No no no no no no, come on.“
All they were missing were jack boots. I mean, Christ–if I had been that woman, I would have been terrified.
This wasn’t accidental bumping. This wasn’t responding to a security threat. This wasn’t in any way, shape, or form justified or justifiable. The woman had exactly as much right to be there unmolested as anyone else. Grabbing her and tackling her by themselves was unforgivably illegal assault, even without the head-stomping.
I wrote the above last night, and more information has come out. The guy who stomped on the woman’s head is indeed an official Rand Paul campaign worker, a guy named Tim Profitt, the campaign’s county coordinator and someone whose endorsement was touted in a full-page newspaper ad for the campaign. The guy, ironically, was wearing a button reading ”Don’t Tread on Me“ (apparently it’s OK the other way around). Profitt ”apologized“ for it, citing concern for Paul’s ”safety“–but that was belied by the fact that they knew exactly who the woman was and what she was trying to do. This was not some mysterious stranger breaking through the crowd, but someone they had earlier identified and tried to block off purely because they knew she wanted to criticize Paul publicly. Safety, my ass.
You have right-wingers not only carrying provocative signs inciting violence, but carrying assault rifles outside Obama events, and they go unmolested–but a woman carrying a fake oversized check to make a political point gets head-stomped. Maybe she should have brought the assault rifle.
Now, had it simply been a unsupported claim of physical assault, it would be open for skepticism on the way it was reported–like soccer players, such people often fake or wildly exaggerate assault-victim stuff, or honestly mistake normal crowd contact for assault. Someone claiming ”They stomped on my head!“ without support is easy to doubt. However, this was caught directly on tape.
Take as a contrary example the story of a guy named Randy Arthur, who in early August , 2009 (amid the summer Tea Party frenzy to disrupt Democratic town hall meetings) got his shirt ripped and his chest scratched, supposedly when he was ”slammed into a wall“ by overzealous security guards (not campaign workers) for a town hall meeting featuring Democratic Representative Kathy Castor in Florida. It was one of those meetings overrun by bused-in Tea Party people who were chanting, screaming, and otherwise shutting down any chance at clear communication. In this case, the exact scuffle was not caught on tape, making it impossible to see how much was unjustifiable and how much was Arthur himself scuffling–videos of the event clearly show an extremely hostile crowd, and Arthur admits trying to hold a door open as security was trying to close them to maintain fire marshal codes in the already-overcrowded auditorium.
Similarly for the story of Kenneth Gladney, a star in right wing circles–a man allegedly ”beaten“ by left-wing SEIU union thugs. They have video, they claim–except that the video starts with the union guy who supposedly caused him numerous grave injuries on the ground, and Gladney standing nearby; the ”assault“ shown is Gladney being pulled off the union guy and falling down as a result. Not only does Gladney appear completely unhurt, popping up off the ground and walking around like nothing is wrong, but the union guy shows injury, holding a hurt shoulder. A few days later Gladney is carted out in a wheelchair at right-wing events, as if he was beaten to within an inch of his life, to hear right-wingers repeat the tale.
No, the Rand Paul event incident was as clear-cut as it gets. It doesn’t matter if the woman who was stomped suffered injuries or not; the treatment she received at the hands of campaign workers is unjustifiable and inexplicable. The people involved in these movements all too often come across as violent, arrogant, self-righteous thugs who rail at others allegedly oppressing them, but all too willing to lash out at others.