Sunday, November 08, 2009

Healthcare Protest: A Faceoff in Shawnee and Kansas Democrats organized a protest outside Shawnee City Hall this past Saturday morning to protest against the "Healthcare Freedom Amendment" proposed by state Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook (R-Shawnee), which would allow Kansas to opt out of any Federal takeover of healthcare and preserve the right of Kansans to maintain choice in healthcare. More than 18 other states have amended their constitutions to preserve their rights in this crucial debate, yet the far-left extremists who organized Saturday's rally oppose any attempt to provide real choice for Americans unless that includes a "public option" (which many of the protesters readily admitted as a trigger for an eventual single-payer system which would overtake private insurers in the long run).

Conservative groups learned of this planned protest and pounced, and within hours (via the blogosphere, emails, and Twitter), Obamacare opponents were alerted and made plans to attend.

From what I could see, there were about 50 Obamacare supporters there at maximum, and at least twice to 2 and half times that many opposing Obamacare, lining Johnson Drive, Nieman Road, and filling the parking lot of Shawnee City Hall. This was somehat ironic, considering that the KS Democrats had organized the protest and had been out-organized by the counter-protesters. I estimated overall turnout to be 150-200.

Police did not provide a buffer, so protesters from both sides confronted eachoter at times in somewhat heated debates.

The anti-Obamacare protesters included young, old, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, and many seniors. The other side was very predictable: union workers, idealistic college students from KU, Young Democrats, and local liberal activists.

I shot this video of a local union thug yelling at an anti-Obamacare Marine and spitting at him. The union guy also confronted and intimidated some other counter-protesters at the rally, attempting to prevent them from taking photos and videotaping the liberal activists.

The pro-Obamacare protestors also sarcastically mocked those on the other side, exclaiming "welcome to Kansas" and "I hope you had a great trip." I found this humorous and mildly ironic considering that their side frequently busses in protestors ala ACORN and has done so for numerous "grassroots" pro-healthcare reform protests throughout the county

Here are some more clips of the two sides attempting to drown each other out. In the first clip, the fringe left begins yelling "It's our country too!" (Who said it wasn't?). In the second clip, the protesters shout "Pass the bill!" as the counter-protestors yell "Kill the bill!" The chants later morph to "Yes We Can!" and "No You Can't!"

When confronted with claims that the bill would provide taxpayer funding for abortion and access to illegal aliens, the liberals claimed that the bill would do nothing of the sort. Yet many of the protesters were sporting professionally-printed Planned Parenthood signs and a few wore Planned Parenthood apparel.

I snapped this photo of a young boy, not more than 7 or 8 years old, holding a "Students for Planned Parenthood" sign. I always hate it when any side or cause uses children to advance their agenda and this was no exception. I'm sure this kid had no idea what Planned Parenthood is or what he was supporting with his sign, but the presence of Planned Parenthood at the rally seemed to contradict the organizers' claim that the congressional bill would not fund abortion.

Here's one of those oh-so "civil" signs used by the Kansas Democrats/ crowd, which makes use of an explicitly suggestive and derogatory term.

Some of the usual suspects were also there. Kathy Cook, Executive Director of Kansans United for Public Education (KFUPE) proudly wore a branded support with a message reading "Support Candidates Who Fund Our Public Schools" and held a sign with a message thanking Congressman Dennis Moore for his support of the healthcare bill. Cook's group regularly hounds public officials and engages in personal political attacks against candidates and elected officials who do not support their agenda.

As of this writing, the House of Representatives passed the healthcare bill by the slimmest of margins, 5 votes with an uncertain fate in the U.S. Senate. Despite that, and KS Democrats' attempts to declare widespread support for the bill (at the protest, they ridiculously claimed that 82 percent of Americans support a public option) the real polling shows otherwise. The latest Ipsos/McClatchy poll from late October shows 49 percent opposed to Obama's healthcare plan and 39 percent supporting it.


Anonymous said...

What a crock. You didn't bother to tell your readers that while Senator Pilcher Cook spoke, the pro health care supporters were quiet but when the pros began their program several of the antis, including the "Marine" came over and tried to shout them down. You didn't tell your readers that the police had to tell the "Marine" to settle down and leave the pros alone. You didn't tell your readers that the streets surrounding city hall were packed with cars with out of county and out of state plates, and wingnut bumper stickers, proving that the antis brought in out of towners to help boost their numbers. How could you not see the rather large truck with a states rights sign mounted in the bed sitting right on the street in front of the rally with tags from SALINA?

You also failed to tell your readers about the "Marine" who spent the entire morning hassling the pros and trying to start fights. Since you spent most of your time following him with your video camera, you can't claim not seeing him. I even saw you talking to him a few times and assumed (wrongly I suppose now) that you were telling him to calm down.

Your numbers are also way off. You people lie as easily as you breathe. But yes, the bill did pass so all your rude behavior, out of town activists and lies on your website made no difference. Boo hoo.

Anonymous said...

You sure take a lot of care to explain how the teabaggers were all diverse and the only diversity I saw was old and older.

Brandon said...

Wow, where do I begin?

I was not present for the entire protest, and never claimed to be, so I don't know what happened when Mary spoke.

I did see the confrontation between the marine and the union guy, and I believe the police told both of them to settle down.

I don't know how many people were there from out of town, but the "pros" obviously had several supporters who were not from Johnson County or Shawnee, so it's a little hypocritcal to call out the other side for a tactic your side employed and employs at protests around the country on a regular basis.

As for me, I thought the condesending and sarcastic "Welcome to Kansas" declarations by the pros were unwarranted. I never claimed that there were not out-of-state protesters on both sides, but yur side's denunciation of that is quite ironic. I live here and I can tell you that the majority of Shawnee and Lenexa on the anti-government healthcare side of all ages--many older citizens, but also young parents with kids and people in their 20s. You would have also seen them if you would have followed the crowd to where they stretched at the corner of Johnson Dr. and Nieman.

Face it: there were people on your side hassling those on the other side as well or trying to provoke a response, including the union guy. While not civil, it is not uncommon in protests and it's not illegal. However, getting in someone's face, becoming threatening, and trying to impede someone's ability to take photos or video is crossing the line.

I do not want to accuse you of lying, but I never spoke to the marine and I didn't follow him around with my video camera at all--I only caught him on tape when the confrontation happened. My only suggestion to you would be to have your vision checked. Or maybe you're confusing me with someone else. I wasn't even there for the entire protest. Nice try though.

As for the numbers, let's see: your side covered about half a block, along Johnson Drive to Barton Dr. The other side had quite a crowd gathered in the parking lot of City Hall as well as supporters halfway alongside Johnson Drive between Barton Dr. and Nieman Rd, going all the way up to Nieman and wrapping around the corner of Nieman. I would say that's about twice as much people.

Is that simple enough for you?

I really thought your side would have generated a larger turnout, I was quite surprised.

I would hope for you to apologize for some of these outlandish allegations and accusations, but I won't hold my breath. At least I don't hide behind an anonymous posting and don't make accusations I can't defend--I just report and comment on what I see and hear.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line: the tea party crew can invade as many rallies as they want and outnumber any group but the only numbers that count are the ones that represent the votes on election day. These conservatives lost an election and they will lose this health care debate too. Thankfully most Americans are compassionate and understand the need to fix our broken health care system.

And compassionate people have not been persuaded to change their minds in spite of the drama and lies from the right.

James Meier said...

I was the first one there and one of the last to leave. The left was NOT quiet while Sen. Pilcher-Cook spoke. That is a flat out lie. Not a mis-statement or stretch but a lie. I organized the rally and helped with the sound equipment and I had to turn up the volume for Sen. Cook twice because the left was shouting taunts at her while she was speaking. They also decided to chant during our opening prayer and pledge of allegiance. Video on Kansas Watchdog shows this, if for only a few seconds.

Both sides had their people that were out of line. The marine guy was one and the union guy too. The marine was starting fights. When I asked him to stop he found me among the conservative crowd and began to yell at me as well, so I guess he was an equal opportunity hot head. When I asked the union guy to please stay on his side so no fights were provoked he spit on me. So there you go.

Further, it was Young Democrats and Moveon from Wyandotte and Douglas counties that helped organized the liberals rally. So why are you critical of folks from outside of Johnson County coming? You're own organizers were from outside of JoCo.

I don't know any numbers. The only estimate I'd feel comfortable stating is that at the beginning of the rally when most of the conservative protesters were on the parking lot, it was clear there was more of us than them. I'd say 150, maybe more, maybe less. People did come and go as the morning went on. I would estimate the liberals on the sidewalk at around 75-100. But any number should be taken with a grain of salt because the two sides were intermixed most of the time.

Brandon also didn't mention that there was a move from the liberals to come over to the conservative side of the parking lot with a large banner. It was an attempt to get in front of a camera and start something. The Shawnee police asked them to move back, which they did without hesitation, quietly and respectfully.

Anonymous said...

Yes, perfect! Fight over the debate. Do not attempt to find solutions. As long as the people are at each others throats the oligarchs will continue to milk us dry. Feed the beast man. Your overlords are proud of your work drone.

Federalist said...

Love it.

Compassionate poeple ?

Government is not supposed to be compassionate. It is supposed to clear the way.

The rest is up to us.

I like that the unions were not really pleased with Sen Rieds proposal to tax Caillac plans because they were afraid it would hurt THEM.

They like the idea as long as someone else is paying for it.

And if they have Cadillac plans, what the helk are they griping about ?

Topper said...

"Fix our broken health care system" ?

I still can't get anyone to tell me what is broken.

Usually that elicits the Geraldo Rivera response of 50 million uninsured....a number that has been easily debunked and drops the initiators credibility.

Besides access is not an issue of health care, it is an issue of availability.

When I ask what needs to be available and how much...I usually get blank stares.

Yes we stupid.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't the police arrest the union guy if he spit on people ?

It seems to me that is provacation.

Anonymous said...

What is Kathy Cook suspected of ?

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael said...

If everyone at these events is so polarized to one side or the other and simply unwilling to engage in solution-based civility, then why host or attend the event at all?

This sort of bickering, pointing of fingers and downright judgment of one another reminds me of the sort of human degradation normally reserved for public Klu Klux Klan rallies.

Seriously, is our two party system so screwed up that campaigns and initiatives are deemed worthy not by way of their own merit, but by throwing mud and stones at the opposition? Are we as Americans so willing to cast away opportunities to serve the good of current and future generations so long as our own immediate and selfish beliefs are delivered?

Allow me to propose that both sides need to settle down and work together on this. If liberals are ignorant of the facts, then teach them the wiser. If conservatives believe the proposal is threatening, then prove it isn't. Because each side has valid points, it is in your meeting of the minds that something good could be created.

Honestly, the polarization I've witnessed on this issue is downright un-American. Y'all understand that blind adherence to party ideals is more socialist than any legislative proposal you'll ever debate in this country, right?

Anonymous said...

Obviously we see that both sides had signs that could offend poeple. Both sides didn't stay quite and both sides had "witty remarks". we can't just point out one side and say "o they were so bad but we were so quite and listened to every word and" blah blah blah blah. I'm just so tired of one sided things that try to show one side of the story. I'll flip throught channels and I don't like Glenn Beck but I'll listen and he'll talk about how these democrats at some town hall meeting somewhere were'nt being quite and trying to do what ever but yet poeple don't like to talk about the other side and what the other side did. So next time you make a post about what pro-healthcare poeple did/say, lets not make it one sided.

Anonymous said...

And I agree with Michael over American politics. That isn't how we should at we are at each other's throats. George Washington gave us his mighty words of Wisdom when he left office, WARNING us about political parties and how they'd split America