No joke: this is the response from Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling (R, of course) to heavily armed police crushing a peaceful women’s rights protest this past weekend in Richmond, and to several statements by Democrats (in support of the women) since then.
Here are some powerful photos from that fiasco, courtesy of Patience Selgado. As you can see, the demonstrators were completely peaceful, most definitely not a threat to anyone, yet the deployment of force to confront these folks was overwhelming. What was that all about, exactly, and where were Virginia’s Governor and Lieutenant Governor when all this was going down? Maybe they were both chilling out on the weekend?
Well, now the weekend’s over, and it appears that Lieutenant Governor Bolling is not at all pleased with people pushing back against his party’s war on women’s rights in Virginia (and around the country, for that matter), including the heavy police crackdown this weekend. Obviously, based on the above tweet, Bolling didn’t take kindly to this statement by the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) earlier today. That statement said, in part:
Watching riot police with helmets and shields march through peaceful protesters on the steps of Mr. Jefferson’s Capitol is a particularly vivid reminder of how far this Commonwealth has fallen in just the few short weeks since Bob McDonnell and his party took total control over Virginia’s state government….This should not be about the Capitol and State Police who responded to the protesters, it should be about the Republican politicians whose radical agenda created the environment for this unfortunate situation to arise.
Bolling also was clearly not pleased by two Democratic Senators – Chap Petersen and Janet Howell, both of Fairfax – speaking out on the floor of the State Senate this morning. A few choice quotes from those speeches that might have gotten under Bolling’s (apparently very thin) skin? First, Sen. Petersen:
That’s why I’ve been so shocked & amazed over the past few weeks to see the reaction of certain state agencies to the presence of protestors in Capitol Square.
On February 27, there was a peaceful gathering by several concerned women in front of the Governor’s mansion. That is publicly-owned property and part of Capitol Square. There was no indication that anyone was in any harm.
Regardless, there were State Police running around in flak jackets and an armored car parked at the mansion.
This past Saturday, March 3, there was another gathering of approximately 1,000 people, again mostly women.
They were met by squads of State Police wearing riot gear, more appropriate for a bar brawl than a civil protest.
Men of Virginia –
Would we permit our wives, our sisters, our mothers and daughters to be treated this way in our homes? In our communities?
I speak not as a State Senator, but as a man who is the son of a Virginian, married to a Virginian and the father of Virginians.
It’s not right to see our Virginia women treated this way.
We are a free society. This is a public square. People have a right to protest, without harassment or intimidation.
Now, Sen. Howell:
This past Saturday, 850 demonstrators came on the Capitol Grounds. They were chanting, “Tell me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!”
And it was! Peaceful demonstrators going to the seat of government to express their views. In this case, they were marching and chanting for women’s rights.
And what did they force? SWAT teams, state police in full riot gear, police armed with semi-automatic guns, and dogs, dogs!
Not since the massive resistance days in the 60s have I seen such a disgraceful display of excessive police presence in my state.
Lieutenant Governor Bolling’s response to all this? Try to change the subject, of course, from his party’s war on women, and demand that Democrats apologies to the police for “calling them out on the Senate floor.” In reality, of course, Democrats were mostly calling out Gov. Bob McDonnell and his sidekick Bill Bolling for allowing the situation to get to this point.
Remember, Governor McDonnell and his majority of radical-social-issues Republicans are the ones who led us down this path in the first place. It’s also Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling who have caused Virginia to lurch away from its long tradition of being a well-managed state with a reputation of being open for business. Now, somehow, this party which ran in 2009 and 2011 on supposedly all about “jobs” and the “economy” have shown themselves to be obsessed with controlling women’s wombs, turning Virginia into a national laughingstock as the transvaginal ultrasound state, where peaceful protesters wind up in showdowns with heavily-armed riot police for peacefully demanding their rights to control their own bodies.
Did Gov. McDonnell and LG Bolling not have any idea what was happening at the Capitol this past weekend, steps from where they and their staffers work? Presuming they knew what was going on, did they not have any power to intervene in the situation once it started to spiral out of control? Are McDonnell and Bolling utterly oblivious, completely incompetent, and/or are they perfectly comfortable with the response that we witnessed this past weekend?
Based on Bolling’s statement demanding that Democrats speaking out in support of the peaceful women protestors apologize, it appears that he and his patron, Bob McDonnell, are doubling down on their arrogance, heavy-handedness, and utter unwillingness to listen to anyone else’s views. Basically, with McDonnell, Bolling, and Virginia Republicans in general, it’s “my way or the highway,” “we’re right and you’re wrong,” “if you don’t like it you can take a long hike off a short pier,” that kind of thing. And they wonder why people don’t take kindly to that? Duhhhh.
P.S. Check out the video from The Richmonder (JC Wilmore) entitled, “Bob McDonnell’s Virginia: Aftermath.”