The Violent Results Of Extreme Right-Wing Rhetoric

October 11, 2010 8:34 am ET — Media Matters Action Network

Violent rhetoric is on the rise among conservative groups and their leaders. As a result, incidents of violence and harassment targeted at members of Congress and the Democratic Party are occurring with more and more frequency. Below are a few of the recent examples of extreme and dangerous reactions to this violent rhetoric:

Rep. Frank Kratovil Was Hanged In Effigy In Maryland

This unidentified man decided he was doing the Tea Party-anti-reform effort a real solid by hanging freshman Maryland Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil in effigy [note the creepily expert knotted noose] with a placard "Congress Traitors The American [and a word that looks like "idol"].

The event — a rally in Salisbury, Md. on the Eastern Shore — was attended by members of the business-funded Americans for Prosperity, a group that includes James Miller, a Federal Trade Commission chairman and budget director during the Reagan administration.


— Salisbury, MD, 7/27/09

Anti-Health Care Reform Protesters Burned Rep. Russ Carnahan In Effigy

At a St. Louis Tea Party rally outside of Russ Carnahan's St. Louis office on Saturday, an angry mob threw shoes at a photo of the congressman before lighting the image on fire.


— St. Louis, MO, 3/20/10

Protesters Placed A Coffin In Front Of Rep. Russ Carnahan's Home

A coffin was placed in front of a Missouri Democrat's house, another in a string of incidents against lawmakers after their vote Sunday on a health care overhaul.

Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) had a coffin placed "near his home," a spokesman said Wednesday evening.

The coffin was from a prayer vigil, and protesters say that the coffin symbolized babies who would be aborted due to the health care law and was not a threat to Carnahan.

— Missouri, 3/24/10

The Gas Line Was Cut At The Home Of Rep. Tom Perriello's Brother 

After a tea party organizer published the address of the brother of Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) in a blog post urging anti-health reform activists to "drop by," someone cut a propane gas line at the house, Politico is reporting.

Now the FBI is investigating what happened at the home near Charlottesville, according to Politico.


In the Periello case, an activist named Mike Troxel of the Lynchburg Tea Party wrote a blog post telling activists to add a "personal touch" to their anger at Periello — who voted yes on the health care bill — by going to his house. But Troxel mistakenly posted the address of Periello's brother.

— Near Charlottesville, VA, 3/24/10

Tea Party Protesters Planned To Burn Speaker Nancy Pelosi And Rep. Tom Perriello In Effigy

The organizer of a "Tea Party" protest in Virginia says he intends to move forward with plans to burn House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Tom Perriello in effigy next weekend at a rally to protest Democratic health care legislation.

The event is scheduled for next Saturday in Danville, which borders North Carolina and sits at the southern end of Perriello's congressional district. Perriello, a Democrat, narrowly won his House seat in 2008 and is considered a top target of Congressional Republicans in next year's midterm elections.

When news of the rally surfaced Friday, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen condemned the plans as "shocking and despicable."

But Nigel Coleman, the organizer of the Tea Party, told CNN he doesn't see what all the fuss is about. The attention, he said, should be on the Democratic plans to overhaul the health care system.

"We're not going to actually set Perriello on fire or Mrs. Pelosi on fire," Coleman said. "But we have been trying to months to get our point across just how vehemently we are opposed to this health care legislation. For the House vote to come so close and to know that Mr. Perriello is on the other side, it's a kick in the stomach that a lot of people couldn't take."

— Danville, VA, 11/21/09

President Obama Burned In Effigy In Wisconsin

The Secret Service is investigating a bar in West Allis, Wisconsin after a bartender burned President Obama in effigy in front of a cheering crowd. A video obtained by local NBC affiliate TMJ4 shows a bartender at the Yester Years Pub and Grill burning a small figurine of Obama "with what looks like duct tape" wrapped around its neck. The crowd can be heard laughing and shouting in the background.

— West Allis, WI, date unknown

Rep. Stupak Received A Fax Depicting A Noose And Gallows

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) received a fax today with a drawing of a noose and gallows, labeled "Bart (SS) Stupak."


In addition to the blog post and the noose, the fax also has the line, "All baby killers come to unseemly ends Either by the hand of man or the Hand of God," the word "Achtung" and the symbol of the Nazi secret police.


— Washington, DC, 3/24/10

Rep. Clyburn Received A Fax Depicting A Noose

In an interview with CNN tonight, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) said that his office had received a fax that depicted a noose.

Clyburn told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that the Republican leaders were partly to blame for the extremist rhetoric (and now imagery) that has been flying at Democratic members directly before and after the health care reform vote.

— Washington, DC, 3/24/10

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Featured A Nancy Pelosi Piñata And Harry Reid Punching Bag

Attendees at a conservative conference in town this week will have the opportunity to whack a pinata of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Conservative Political Action Conference "CPAC" begins Thursday here in D.C. and will feature a party Friday evening where guests will have the opportunity to whack a Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) piñata.

Keri Ann Meslar, director of development for the Greater Washington Sports Alliance and Katherine Kennedy of The Blonde Charity Mafia will be two of three famous D.C. residents taking a turn at the piñata during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which starts on Thursday. Meslar will be the guest "whacker" at a CPAC-sponsored party in Georgetown.

Mary Christopher, outreach coordinator for CivicForumPAC, said the Pelosi piñata will be filled with favorite Pelosi sayings, bills and candy. The party hopes to invite two other well-known D.C. residents to smash the piñata first, before others in attendance will be invited to try to take the Speaker down. "We're hoping to have the females whack the piñata and males try their hand at a Harry Reid punching bag," Christopher said.

— CPAC, 2/18-2/20/10, emphasis added

A Blogger Encouraged His Readers To Throw Bricks Through Windows Of Offices Associated With Democrats

Vandals smashed doors and windows at five Democratic offices around the country in the days surrounding the landmark House health care vote Sunday night, and a right-wing blogger in Alabama is taking credit for starting a so-called "window war."


Pinson, Alabama-based blogger Mike Vanderboegh has been tracking the breaking of windows at Dem offices after issuing a call Friday: "To all modern Sons of Liberty: THIS is your time. Break their windows. Break them NOW."

It's far from clear whether Vanderboegh's call to arms has anything to do with the incidents around the country.

The Kansas City Star identifies Vanderboegh as a former leader of the Alabama Constitutional Militia.

His blog, Sipsey Street Irregulars, identifies with the so-called "Three Percenter" doctrine: "During the American Revolution, the active forces in the field against the King's tyranny never amounted to more than 3% of the colonists."

The March 19 post says:

They will send the Internal Revenue Service and other federal police to do this in thousands of small Wacos, if that is what it takes to force us to submit. This arrogant elite pretends that this oppression is for our own good, while everyone else understands that this is about their selfish, insatiable appetite for control over our liberty, our money, our property and our lives.

— Pinson, AL, 3/19/10

A Brick Was Thrown Through The Window Of Rep. Louise Slaughter's District Office

The "Slaughter Solution" on health care isn't the only thing that has come under attack in U.S. Rep. Louise M. Slaughter's world this week. Sometime early this morning, someone threw a brick through the front window of her Pine Avenue office. The damage was discovered about 12:30 a.m., city police said. The brick put a hole in the outer-most window at the office at 1910 Pine Ave., but did not damage a second interior window, police reported. A piece of broken brick believed to have caused the damage was found at the scene.

— Niagara Falls, NY, 3/19/10

Protesters Threw A Brick Through The Door Of The Monroe County Democratic Committee

A brick was thrown through the glass doors of the Monroe County Democratic Committee's headquarters on University Avenue, the first such act of vandalism at the office, Chairman Joseph Morelle said Sunday.

— Rochester, NY, 3/21/10

The Front Door Was Smashed At Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Arizona Office 

The front door was smashed out at Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' congressional office last night.

At 2:40 a.m., just a few hours after staff left the building after the late-night vote, the alarm system went off, said spokesman C.J. Karamargin. The panel to the front door and the glass panel alongside it were smashed out. The perpetrator likely had to hop the gated fence to get access to the door, since it's not viewable from the parking lot.

— Tucson, AZ, 3/21/10

Protesters Threw A Brick With "Anti-Obama Rhetoric" Written On It Through A Window Of The Sedgwick County Democratic Party

Authorities in Wichita and some other cities across the country are investigating vandalism against Democratic offices, apparently in response to health care reform.


"There's glass everywhere," said Lyndsay Stauble, executive director of the Sedgwick County Democratic Party. "A brick took out the whole floor-to-ceiling window and put a gouge in my desk."

Stauble said the brick, hurled through the window between Friday night and Saturday morning, had "some anti-Obama rhetoric" written on it.

— Wichita, KS, 3/20/10

Vandals Threw A "Fist-Sized" Brick At The Windows Of The Hamilton County Democratic Party

Someone reportedly threw a fist-sized rock through the front window of the Hamilton County Democratic Party headquarters Sunday night after Congress passed the landmark health insurance overhaul.

Caleb Faux, the party's executive director, finds it hard to believe the incident wasn't related to the legislation's passing.

"I have to assume that it did," Faux said. "We've been here for three years and we've never had an incident of that kind."

According to Faux, the rock didn't shatter the window, which is made of heavy plate glass. It did, however, make a hole the size of a half dollar coin and crack the glass.

— Cincinnati, OH, 3/21/10