Eyewitness at Cantor Event in Louisa: “Does Freedom of Speech mean anything??”

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    What follows is an eyewitness account of what happened in the Solid Grounds coffee shop in Louisa on Monday, where a Democratic grassroots supporter (Jon Taylor) of 7th CD nominee Rick Waugh was told he had to leave a highly-publicized, apparently “open to the public” rally (on his “victory tour,” no less) by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-7th). Taylor was then manhandled by police and arrested. This account is by Lewalta Haney, who was sitting at the table with Taylor when the police came up. (bolding added by me for emphasis of a few key points)

    The way Solid Grounds said it happened was not true (Surprise Surprise).

    I had just gotten back from getting a cup of coffee and to get Kayla some chocolate milk and proceeded to sit down at the table near the door. Amy then went to get her coffee and returned. We were just sitting at the table drinking our coffee awaiting the arrival of Eric Cantor, when the town police came in and question Jon Taylor about his parking his car in front. Jon showed him the receipt showing he had paid for multiple hours. It burned them up to see Jon’s car parked right in front of the event with all the posters. Town police left.

    Then a few minutes later town and county police approached the table and told Jon he had to leave. They accused him of being a “ring leader” trying to cause trouble. At this point they said the owner of the shop wanted him to leave, and Mr. Minter came up and did ask Jon to leave. Jon was questioning why he had to go and that he had an invitation. Meanwhile the police roughly helped him from his chair and attempted to put hand cuffs on Jon. I ask what was going on and loudly objected to the action. I said “next you will say I have to leave” and the town police acknowledged that this was true.

    After the incident on the sidewalk, the police returned inside and told me he was writing me a summons for trespassing…then he told Amy she would have to leave also. Amy did not say anything at any point. We were just drinking our coffee and it would not have happened if the police had not barged and bullied their way to our table. I was under the impression that this was a town hall type of event that was open to the public.

    It could have been handled in a completely civilized manner. We are people who have lived in Louisa for many years and who are known to their friends and neighbors, not thugs imported in to cause a disturbance. Interesting to see all of our local officials present and that they didn’t protest as to how our citizens were being manhandled.

    Made me sick. What the hell did Minter mean by saying we were “indicating” that we were not going to sit quietly during the event. Does sitting at the table with our coffee and Grandchild and Daughter pose any indication of what our behavior would be later in the event???? Does Freedom of Speech mean anything??

    I’d just add that the corporate media’s reporting on this incident has been sketchy, lazy, far too willing to take the Cantor campaign’s spin, and generally both misleading and unhelpful. Typical, unfortunately, of the “lamestream media.”

    UPDATE: As for the Can’tor campaign’s pathetic attempts to blame the Waugh campaign for this, I refer you to my interview late yesterday with Floyd Bayne’s campaign manager.

    Point blank, the Bayne people feel that Rick Waugh’s campaign has done absolutely nothing wrong in this campaign, that they are simply exercising their right to free speech and trying to get Eric Cantor to engage in a discussion, and that Cantor’s been smearing them.  In fact, Waugh has “not gone over the line in any way,” he just wants Eric Cantor to engage and debate him.

    Also, note that Eric Cantor’s wife sits on the board of Media General (e.g., Richmond Times Dispatch), while Cantor himself is known to have tremendous influence on the local media. You think the Waugh campaign’s gonna get a fair shake in that environment?  LOL

    • notlarrysabato

      Bar none.

    • Dan Sullivan

      Blue Bronc pointed out the “fat cop” in comments elsewhere. Looks like a case of bullying that merits censure if not dismissal. But the allegations that local officials stood by while this transpired is even the more disturbing.  

    • VADEM

      yeh, there was definately some behind the scenes stuff going on in advance of Cantor’s arrival.

      I hope an attorney steps up to help this guy. Right or wrong, he’s going to have to go to court.

    • totallynext

      start a donation – SUE