Monday, August 17, 2009

Scenes from the 'Free Speech Zone'

Below you'll find a short video of the competing demonstrations at Barack Obama’s health care town hall in Belgrade on Friday.

There were some differing accounts of the demonstration, the civility of the crowd, etc. so I thought I’d just post some video of what I saw during the 45 minutes or so that I wandered the parking lot before I had to head to the Secret Service checkpoint to get my press credentials for the main event.

You can read my account of the demonstrations in Saturday’s Great Falls Tribune. I should note that I wouldn’t necessarily agree with the headline’s assertion that the demonstrators were “civil.” The town hall itself was mostly packed with Obama supporters, so it didn’t turn into a shout fest inside the airplane hanger. However, the demonstrations--which took place about a quarter mile from the hanger itself--were far less civil. You can see from the signs in the video the stark contrast between the pro-reform and anti-reform activists.

I need to make it clear that these demonstrations went on throughout the Obama town hall. Due to Secret Service security protocols, any journalist covering the town hall had to be through the security checkpoint and have our bags swept by Secret Service agents and K-9 units hours before the event started. Which means I missed the vast majority of the demonstrations taking place in the parking lot. I’ve since heard from a number of sources who said things got pretty ugly throughout the day. One pro-reform demonstrator texted me after he ended up with a bloody lip and a loose front tooth after a woman pushed his bull horn into his face.

Here’s the video:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why did the guy get arrested at 1:55?

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