Recess Watch: Town-Halls Boil Over Into Violence

By Chris Good

It's August, and lawmakers are back in their home states talking to constituents. Liberals and conservatives alike will show up to town-hall meetings and other events to question their elected officials--sometimes loudly--about health care and the rest of Washington's business, as lawmakers make the case for their own agenda. When passions run high, debate can be spirited. We'll be watching.

It would be naive to say that things are "getting" out of hand: town-hall meetings in Tampa, Florida and Mehlville, Missouri boiled over into shoving, fighting and arrests Thursday night, marking the craziest day of the escalating recess town-halls yet. Earlier this week, there was a protester who hung Rep. Frank Kravotil (D-MD) in effigy, and a death threat against Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC)--both disturbing developments to be sure. But last night there was actual violence.

In Tampa, a town-hall meeting hosted by Rep. Kathy Castor (D) erupted into some shoving amid chants of "you work for us!" The Tampa Tribune reports at least two scuffles, with a photo of one town-hall goer standing outside with his shirt ripped and a scratch across his chest. Here's video from YouTube:

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http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/08/recess-watch-town-halls-boil-over-into-violence/22936/

The Rubicon has been crossed.

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http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/08/recess-watch-town-halls-boil-over-into-violence/22936/