Cheney Protester Assaulted in Eugene
Free speech in a headlock again...
A chilling aspect of the 6:00 news report on Cheney's Eugene bund rally yesterday was the completely tolerated violent group assault on a protester. A man in a white t-shirt with "Pro-Jesus, Bring the Troops Home" written on it began shouting during Cheney's speech. A 66 year old man, Art Briga of Springfield, in a red-orange jacket, lunged at the protester and put him in a wrestling headlock -- with a hand clamped over the protester's mouth. Another man shoved the protester backwards as others began pulling the protester from behind. The protester's female companion (similar t-shirt) seemed to be appealling to them to stop the assualt. The TV report then showed the man (Art Briga) who committed the initial assault outside after the rally, saying that protesters are "snakes in the grass" and need to be stamped down.
This is certainly similar to the hand-over-mouth assault on Kendra in Beaverton during the Bush bund rally, and a pictured hair-pulling attack on another protester inside another Republican rally recently. The double standard is obvious -- imagine if a protester did such a thing -- we would be doing time. But apparently for Bu$h/Cheney supporters it is open season on protesters, with impunity. The violent attack in Eugene was so obvious that Cheney himself had to mention it: "Treat him with kindness, now."
News reports below. And note Cheney's description of the Willamette Valley as a "piece of real estate."
Protestors greet Cheney in Eugene, Portland
09:08 PM PDT on Friday, September 17, 2004
By kgw.com and AP Staff
EUGENE -- Standing underneath a giant American flag, Vice Predident Dick Cheney spoke to a boisterous crowd of about 3,000 inside a Monaco Coach Corp., hangar at the Eugene airport on Friday afternoon.
A few minutes into his speech, while Cheney was touting the Bush administration's record in the Iraq war, an unidentified protester wearing a white T-shirt that said "Pro-Jesus. Bring home the troops now," started shouting "Stop the war!"
Audience member Art Briga, a former U.S. Marine from Springfield, then ran up from behind the protester, and grabbed him in a headlock, until security guards could escort the protester and a friend out of the hangar.
"I thought it was discourteous for him to do that. That was the Vice President of the United States," Briga said.
As the two were being led out of the hangar, Cheney quipped, "Treat them kindly now."
Earlier Friday, the site of a Cheney town hall meeting in Oregon City also drew protests.
A small group of protestors stood near the Cheney event, and read aloud a letter that said, in part, "We have spent $200 billion on this war after you promised it would pay for itself — but the money is not being used to keep Oregon soldiers safe. So where is the money going?"
A handful of veterans also attempted to hand deliver that protest letter signed by 174 military families to the vice president, but they were kept away from the event by police.
"If I would have had the chance, I would have asked him why he rushed to war without a plan to win the peace," said protester Kris Rein, whose husband is stationed in Mosul, Iraq.
Another protester, Marica Skinner of Oregon City, held up a sign that read: "Cheney self-serving profiteers not welcome in Oregon City." The sign was an apparent reference to the millions of dollars in no-bid Iraq contracts awarded by the U.S. government to Halliburton, an oil services company that Cheney headed prior to being elected vice president.
Vice President Dick Cheney speaks during a Bush-Cheney rally Friday in Eugene.
September 18, 2004
EUGENE — He doesn't have Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards' movie-star hair and mega-watt smile.
Still, Vice President Dick Cheney has an appeal all his own, Republicans said at a rally in Eugene on Friday.
"Excellent. Steady. Honest. Forthright," is how Tom Shattuck-Smallwood described the vice president. "He's made good decisions in tough times."
Dwight Isborn, 57, a pharmacist from Cottage Grove, said Cheney "puts out what he has to say and means it. At least you know what he's running on."
Liz Cheney, the vice president's daughter, had her own view.
"He's not slick," she said. "He's not a glad-hander. He's not a back-slapper. And unlike his opponent, his hair is not his best asset. But he is real and honest and true."
A crowd of about 3,000 saw what many called Cheney's straightforward appeal Friday at a rally at the Monaco Coach Hangar at the Eugene Airport.
The vice president called the Willamette Valley "a fantastic piece of real estate" and said a second Bush administration would act on issues such as deepening the Columbia River shipping channel, imposing malpractice reform and ending lawsuit abuse.
Cheney blasted opponents John Kerry and John Edwards, emphasizing Kerry's reputation of having a tendency to — as the crowd chanted repeatedly — "flip-flop."
"His liveliest disagreements are with himself," Cheney said of Kerry, adding that the Democratic presidential candidate has shifted positions on issues such as the Iraq war, NAFTA and the No Child Left Behind Act.
Republicans contrasted Kerry's image with their vision of the vice president himself.
"He looks you in the eye when he's talking to you," Liz Cheney said. "He has a firm handshake, and his word is his bond."
Steve Weintraub, 53, of Lebanon, met the vice president up close and could testify to the handshake, at least.
"It was pretty firm considering how much shaking he had to do," Weintraub said.
Balloons and confetti dropped. Placards and banners read "Chicks for Cheney," "Winning the West," "Viva Bush" and "Republicans live in Eugene."
One such Republican is Gabe Granger, a 24-year-old African-American Bush supporter and first-time voter. Granger said he is among the minority in the black community in Eugene to support President Bush.
"I love my president for sure," said Granger, who had Bush's name on the back of his football jersey. "This is a man who does not play to what people want to hear."
Granger said he liked the parts of Cheney's speech where he "tears up John Kerry. That needs to be done more." Cheney, he said, was "one of the best vice presidents we've ever had."
Pamela Farley, 36, a nanny from Springfield, is pregnant. That made Cheney's anti-abortion stance an important issue to her, she said, along with his leadership on the war in Iraq.
"With the situation in Iraq, I don't think we should make changes (in presidents)," she said.
Charles Fowler, a 47-year-old service technician for a manufactured homes company, said he supported Bush and Cheney mostly for their anti-abortion stance.
"That's the overriding factor," he said.
Molly Bordonaro of the Bush-Cheney campaign called the vice president "not only an extremely capable leader. He's a man from the West."
"(Kerry) says he's in touch with the West," Cheney said. "He must mean western Massachusetts."
The West lived up to its rough reputation Friday; two protesters appeared in the back of the crowd with shirts featuring political slogans while Cheney was talking. One protester wore a shirt that said "Pro-Jesus" and "Bring home the troops now."
"Stop the War!" he yelled, and was drowned out by cries of "Four more years!"
Art Briga, an audience member from Springfield, lunged at the man and put him in a headlock. "Treat them kindly now," Cheney told the audience as security took the two protesters away.
"I thought it was discourteous of him to do that," Briga said of the protester. "That was the vice president of the United States."
From the transcript of Cheney's speech, at the point when the assault happened (chant of "four more years" breaks out):
Now, we love this part of the country. The Willamette Valley, obviously,
is a fantastic piece of real estate -- some flying -- I've been on the road
too long. (Laughter.) Some fine fly fishing. And I know a thing or two about
fishing. I spend a little time on the stream myself. But also by the looks of
things, this is Bush-Cheney country. (Applause.)
We've been traveling the country extensively ever since the convention.
And that was a great convention in New York City, wasn't it? (Applause.) You
can't do much better than getting somebody like Zell Miller to come and brag
for George Bush. (Applause.) The President, of course, made a tremendous
speech, laid out a forward-looking plan to make America more hopeful and our
world more secure. And although he's not here today, also I want to report
that your senator Gordon Smith is doing a superb job for all of us in
Washington. (Applause.) And the President and I are tremendously -- the
President and I are tremendously grateful --
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Treat him with kindness now. Treat him with
kindness. Maybe he'll see the light. (Laughter.)
But we are -- we're delighted to have the support of so many great folks
all across the country. The President and I, of course, came within just a few
thousand votes of victory in Oregon in 2000. We're going to work even harder
this year to earn your support and victory on November 2nd in Oregon.
September 18, 2004
Cheney: Stay the course
By David Steves
Vice President Dick Cheney spent most of his brief stop in Eugene on Friday ridiculing Democrat John Kerry as a flip-flopper and urging voters to keep America safe by sticking with the current administration.
In his 28-minute speech before 3,000 people at the Eugene Airport, Cheney made several references to the accomplishments of his running mate, President Bush - cutting taxes, pushing legislation to speed up logging in fire-prone Western forests and adding jobs to an economy that has been struggling to emerge from the 2001 downturn. But among the biggest selling points he made for a vote for Bush was keeping the United States safe from terrorists.
"Today we face an enemy every bit as intent on destroying us as were the Axis powers in World War II. ... This is, to put it simply, an enemy that we must destroy," Cheney said. "And with President George W. Bush as our commander-in-chief, that is exactly what we will do."
The campaign's stated goal for Cheney's appearance - revving up a partisan crowd of supporters and volunteers for the final 45 days of the campaign - seemed to be fulfilled, based on the raucous and frequent applause at the Monaco Coach hangar.
Twice, Cheney's speech was briefly interrupted by protesters who had infiltrated the crowd, which was made up of supporters who had received tickets from local GOP offices.
It was the sixth trip Cheney has made to Oregon since Bush's election and his first to Lane County since the 2000 campaign, when Cheney spoke in Junction City at a motor coach manufacturing plant. Prior to his Eugene stop, Cheney had appeared at a town hall-style event in Oregon City. That's where his Democratic counterpart, vice presidential nominee John Edwards, appeared Tuesday.
In Eugene Cheney tossed out plenty of red meat to the crowd, drawing huge cheers when he said he and Bush reject the partial-birth abortion procedure, support the right of Americans to bear arms, and believe that Americans ought to be able to say "one nation under God" when pledging allegiance to the flag.
But one of the major themes of the speech focused on Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.
Throughout the campaign, the Bush-Cheney campaign has sought to characterize Kerry as indecisive and prone to change his position on issues. Cheney maintained that drumroll throughout his speech, prompting the crowd to break out in chants of "flip-flop, flip-flop."
"America faces a choice on Nov. 2 between a strong and steadfast president and his opponent, who seems to adopt a new position every day," Cheney said.
Cheney criticized Kerry's vote against a bill to spend $87 billion for body armor and other military equipment for the troops in Iraq.
Adam Green, a Kerry spokesman in Oregon, said Cheney was mischaracterizing Kerry's vote on the military equipment appropriation by leaving out key factors: Kerry and other Democrats had proposed a version that provided the $87 billion by rolling back a portion of the Bush tax cut for the wealthiest households and businesses. Bush had threatened to veto that version. The one that passed Congress, and which Kerry opposed, did not provide the increased tax revenue to pay for it and included what the Democrat considered too much money for Halliburton and other contractors, Green said.
Green said Oregon voters should take into account Bush's own shifting statements on the war in Iraq.
"Let's talk about Bush's changing reasons for the war as lie after lie got debunked," he said. "Let's talk about Bush announcing 'mission accomplished' last year but telling Oregon parents who lost children in Iraq this week to stay the course."
Audience member Megan Wolf said she agreed to volunteer on a phone bank after calling a Republican campaign office for tickets. After hearing Cheney's speech, she said she was ready to devote more volunteer time on behalf of the Bush-Cheney ticket.
"I've never seen anyone this famous up close before," said the Corvallis resident, who turned 18 last month. "Now I'm getting really excited, so I think that will motivate me."
Two people in the crowd shed their outer layers of clothing after the speech began to reveal white T-shirts with anti-war slogans. One of them started shouting "Stop the war!" until an elderly man in the crowd rushed over to grab the demonstrator from behind and put a headlock on him. After security personnel broke up the scuffle, they escorted the two dissenters from the hangar.
"Treat him with kindness and maybe he'll see the light," Cheney remarked before resuming his speech.
The man who attacked the protester, 66-year-old Art Briga of Springfield, was allowed to stay.
"I just thought it was discourteous of the man to be doing that. He's the vice president of the United States," Briga said afterward. "And I'm an ex-Marine."
contribute to this article
contribute to this article
add comment to discussion