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So Much for the Right to Assemble, Free Speech in Eric Cantor's America?

by: lowkell

Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 07:53:56 AM EDT

Why was this man, Jon Taylor of Louisa County, being arrested and manhandled by police Monday? Because, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, he was attending an apparently public event at a coffee house, promoted by Rep. Eric Cantor on his website.
Taylor said the Democrats were asked to leave by the coffee shop's owner. When they refused, authorities escorted them outside.

The three others were issued summonses for trespassing.

Cantor arrived after the disturbance, entering the coffee shop by the rear door. He spoke for about 20 minutes, shook hands with the guests and left.

So, are you feeling comfortable in Eric Cantor's America? Get used to more of this if these guys win next Tuesday.

UPDATE: The Washington Post has more:

lowkell :: So Much for the Right to Assemble, Free Speech in Eric Cantor's America?
Cantor also has a tendency to surround himself with layers of defense, as was the case Monday when he appeared at a coffee shop in the small town of Louisa, supposedly to meet voters.

One man attending was John Taylor, a member of the Louisa County Democratic Committee and a backer of Rick Waugh, Cantor's Democratic opponent. Taylor and two others were asked to leave the coffee shop. County police then subdued Taylor, as can be seen in a video shot by his son with his cell phone.

Events like these raise questions about the decorum of the man who would be in such a powerful position on Capitol Hill. Violence at campaign stops, regardless of who may be at fault, is not something commonplace in Virginia politics.

If Cantor says he will meet and debate voters, he should have the nerve to do so. He should not hide behind his party's gatekeepers and a rural police department.

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Republican Thugs and Getting Close to Real Bad (0.00 / 0)
The precedent setting bush-cheney-rove regime tossed people out of public gatherings too. And the Roberts corporations are more people than you are SCoUS said that was perfectly fine.

So those of you who believe in the Constitution should just look to the side least you be arrested too.

Mere parsimony is not economy. Expense, and great expense, may be an essential part in true economy.
Edmund Burke

STOP the Miller/Paul/Cantor Axis of Violence!! (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
I hope... (0.00 / 0)
...that Mr. Taylor is retaining an attorney to sue the officials involved in this debacle.  Let a judge decide if it was excessive force, sure, because I'm sure there are other facts involved and the law must be respected, but I think his rights were pretty harshly violated.  This reminds me of some of the crap that went on in Zimbabwe before it got kicked up to the next level [i.e. public beatings and public shootings]: wrench the opposition from events and arrest them as an example.  Morgan Tsvangirai can tell you all about how that took place.

Contrast that with Tea Party members (0.00 / 0)
Showing up at the president's rallies with guns, and with threatening posters.

A few questions I'd like to have answered (0.00 / 0)
Was this really a "public" event or was it "private" (albeit at a public coffeeshop)? Did the coffeeshop owner really ask Jon Taylor to leave? Were others asked to leave?  Did Taylor in any way resist arrest? Was it in any way necessary - let alone justified - to arrest him?  From the video, it doesn't look good, but maybe there's a "backstory" here that would explain this?  I'm all ears!

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Curiosity Shared (0.00 / 0)
. . . but even if the police were justified in making a tresspassing arrest, it does not look good for Cantor to be hiding from his critics and opponents this way.

[ Parent ]
What Really Happened.... (0.00 / 0)
This was a public event. The coffee shop was not closed to the public for this event. This event was "advertised" on Cantor's website. The Taylor family RSVP'ed to this event and their RSVP was accepted. The family entered the coffee house with their Rick Waugh sign. They ordered coffee for the adults and hot chocolate for their grandchild. Directly out front of the coffee shop sat the Taylor's vehicle with signs that showed they were supporters of Rick Waugh. The Louisa County Sherriff's department showed up and told them that they could not have their vehicle parked out front. Mr. Taylor showed the officers a receipt for the meter showing that he had paid for several hours.
The police left only to return later to further harass the Taylor family. At this time the one of the owners of the Solid Grounds Christian Coffee House asked the Taylor family to leave. Mr. Taylor who is partially deaf questioned why he had to leave and said he had a right to be there and would remain unless he was under arrest. For the most part, the rest is captured on video by Mr. Taylor's minor son who was also charged along with the rest of the family. I hope Mr. Taylor's sue Cantor, The Coffee House, and the Louisa P.D.

[ Parent ]
remember when... (0.00 / 0)
the Teapaggers were yelling "hear my voice!" at the health care town halls? I'm sure they are outraged at all the liberals having their voices violently suppressed by teabagger candidates/staff/supporters.

Socially, Politically, and Culturally Conscious Media - Sum of Change

A few items in addition to Lowell's (0.00 / 0)
If the event was in a coffee house, and the gentleman was asked to leave by the owner, he had to leave, and if he refused to do so, he was subject to arrest. It was private property, and that's that, in my view.

But being subject to arrest, and the police choosing that as the means to handle this situation, are two different things. Still, if the guy was truly being disruptive, I have no problem with it. Eric Cantor has as much right to campaign free of disruption on private property as Tom Perriello does.

The cops here seemed a little too enthusiastic in my opinion. It is hard to tell how much that guy was struggling (at one point, one of the officers tells him to stop resisting), but I wonder whether four trained police officers versus one aging hippie need be so physical.

Asked To Leave If You Are: (0.00 / 0)
Hispanic looking
Missing a leg
Cannot speak
Cannot hear
Cannot see
Dog hiding ugly
Cannot walk

and the list goes on. There are citizens of our United States who are protected against discrimination. If you have a public accommodation, you will allow people you do not care for in it to spend their money.

Mere parsimony is not economy. Expense, and great expense, may be an essential part in true economy.
Edmund Burke

[ Parent ]
We have laws (0.00 / 0)
that prohibit discrimination by private businesses on certain bases, i.e., race, religion, disability. I don't see how that was involved here.

The legal question, it would seem to me, was whether for purposes of Cantor's appearance, this coffee shop ceased being private property and was somehow transformed into a public forum in which Taylor had certain first amendment rights. I think the law is pretty clear on that one that he does not have those rights in a private place.

We can debate the political wisdom of Cantor having the guy removed, but it seems clearly within the law.

I would also question the wisdom of arresting the guy, instead of the police using less severe means to control the situation. I would wonder, however, whether once the shop owner complained that the police had no choice but to arrest Taylor and let the courts sort it out.

[ Parent ]
It Depends (0.00 / 0)
Although I like to think I had a little bit to do with the brouhaha about this diary on DailyKOS because I posted essentially the same concept in response to a flat out statement that any business owner can throw whomever they like out. If it is public and being held for a public event that is not closed,say in a back room, the rule used to be you were public and in.

However, with Roberts deciding that the bush-cheney-rove triumvirate could throw people out of a public event almost everything is now questionable. That decision is in line with the corporations are people too decision, screwy.

The second issue is the amount of force used by the fatso cop. In a normal time and place fatso would not even be on a police force and the amount of force could bring about a lawsuit that the city attorney would be negotiating to minimize the cost to the city.  

Mere parsimony is not economy. Expense, and great expense, may be an essential part in true economy.
Edmund Burke

[ Parent ]
My understanding is (0.00 / 0)
that it is very fact specific as to whether your private property become a public place. The mere decision to allow a candidate for office to campaign on yur property does not make it a public place, but the circumstances would matter.

We had an issue like this down here in Charlottesville with the Tea Party protesting outside Perriello's office. Their protest was disrupting other businesses in the area, and the owner of the property where Perriello rents space kicked the protesters off her property.

The protesters were allowed to remain, of course, on public property further from Perriello's office, but it was, for them, a less visible and effective spot.

I'm not defending what these cops did -- although I'm willing to withhold judgment on the amount of force used for now -- and I think it is stupid and anti-democratic for a candidate -- any candidate -- to exclude people from his appearances in private forums simply because they disagree with him (so long as the opposition is respectful).

But in an event on private property, the property owner can ask people to leave, as long as his request is not violating discrimination banned by law.

I consider myself a progressive, and I also believe that a system based on private property ownership, and on the system of laws that make it possible, as the most effective means to, in the long run, improve the lives of most people.

[ Parent ]
Very interesting (0.00 / 0)
I'm very strong for personal property rights, so I will also be very interested in knowing who asked for these Dem supporters to leave, who called the police, did the police have a right to intervene, and whether or not they were paying customers, and what that means in the law.

But what a story to be coming out of Virginia....

[ Parent ]
Yes, and the "circumstances" were that Eric Cantor (0.00 / 0)
the House Minority Whip and a very powerful politician running for reelection, invited any and all voters to come and see him at this campaign event - also urged them to bring family, friends, neighbors. And no, the invite didn't specify what political party you had to belong to in order to attend. This is thuggishness, plain and simple, and it is NOT America - at least not the America I know and love!

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[ Parent ]
Two issues (0.00 / 0)
I think there are two issues here -- is this illegal (and I don't know the answer to that) and is this pathetic.  And the answer to the pathetic part is absolutely, yes, it is.

But what is dangerous about this is that voters don't seem to care.  Indeed, there are quite a few races out there where the more thuggish you are, the better.  In some ways, it reminds me of the old time Democratic machines, where you could get some burly guys (usually with labor union ties) to come in and "take care of things" for you.  And of course, before that, you had Republicans who hired thugs (think Pinkerton) to "smooth things out."  There has always been a violent streak in American politics, and watching that swing back and forth from one party to the other is interesting.  And of course, it's usually a short term gain at a long term cost.

[ Parent ]
I didn't say it was okay because it was a private event (0.00 / 0)
I said it was private property, and certain rights attach to that ownership. There is a huge difference.

I agree with you that Cantor's action were reprehensible and cowardly -- as an elected official and candidate, he has an obligation to consider and respond to the views of all voters, those who agree with him, and those who don't.

But the property owner had every legal (and in my view, moral) right to ask these folks to leave his property. Although it is unclear whether he did so, if he did these people should have complied with his request, regardless of what the invitation said. That is all I'm saying. The America I love (but all to often do not know) is one that protects the rights of all Americans at all times, even when they are exercised in a manner that produces bad results.

[ Parent ]
Again, do we have any evidence (0.00 / 0)
that the "property owner...asked these folks to leave his property?"  I haven't heard that.

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[ Parent ]
Then holding political events in private venues (0.00 / 0)
Is the way to go to suppress dissenting views.

We will see a lot more Republicans doing this in the future. Maybe some spineless Democrats as well.

[ Parent ]
Why (4.00 / 1)
was the guy asked to leave I wonder? Was he raising hell and being disruptive? Or was his only crime was that he was a democrat?

More information (0.00 / 0)
The coffee house - "Solid Grounds" - website is here.

Apparently, the Cantor campaign was advertising this event heavily - not clear at the moment whether that was just to supporters - as part of the "Eric Cantor Victory Tour" or some such b.s.  I also head that the request to leave was not made by the restaurant staff or owner, but directly by the security/police folks.  Another interesting tidbit - at least some of the Democrats bought coffee, which means that they were paying customers of this establishment.  Finally, it appears that the Democrats were targeted for who they were, not for any untoward behavior.

That's it for now, I'm sure we'll find out more since Louisa is a very small town and word gets around.

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Those are some interesting facts (0.00 / 0)
If the owner did not ask the Democrats to leave, then there is no private property right involved.

If the Democrats at the event were not disruptive, and police asked them to leave, then the police have some explaining to do. They do not have the right to assert the private property rights of the owner. If they did so because Cantor (or his staff) wanted them removed, they would still be wrong, because Cantor had no property interest either.

I continue to maintain, however, that if the owner asked people to leave, they had to do so (as long as his request wasn't based on a discriminatory reason prohibited by law).  

[ Parent ]
There's no evidence the owner asked them to leave (0.00 / 0)
Also, this was clearly a public event, the Democrats - or at least some of them - purchased coffee from the shop, which means they were paying customers, etc.  In sum, this is FUBAR.

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[ Parent ]
Eric Cantor invitation (0.00 / 0)

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Listed as "Worthy Causes" by the Coffeeshop (0.00 / 0)
*"My Life My Call": "Even though you have had sex, it doesn't mean you have to continue having sex. Make a decision to cease from sexual activity from this day forward, and have your friends keep you accountable. It's never too late to start the rest of your life today."

*Christ in Action: "a faith based nonprofit 501-(C)(3) organization founded in January of 1982 by Dr. Denny & Sandy Nissley. The Nissley's have been married for 28 years, are Certified Marriage Specialists through the National Association of Marriage Enhancement (NAME), have completed Pastoral Crisis Intervention and Assisting Individuals in Crisis training with the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF). At the request of The White House, they are currently developing a Faith Based First Responders Coalition to streamline a nationwide rapid response network in the event of future disasters.CIA has been responding to national disasters since 1998."

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Private event (0.00 / 0)
Sure doesn't sound like a private event to me.  

Me either. (0.00 / 0)
The House Minority Whip, running for reelection, sends out an invitation to any and all voters in his district to come, along with their friends, families, and neighbors, to a campaign event. And then, all of a sudden, it's "private?" What complete bull****.  

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[ Parent ]
I disagree... (0.00 / 0)
She certainly did not have a problem taking money from them when they ordered drinks from her establishment.

[ Parent ]
Isn't that what I just said? (0.00 / 0)

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[ Parent ]
I agree - it was a public event (0.00 / 0)
Which is why I said above that Cantor had no right to ask Taylor to leave.

The shop's owner, however, did have that right as a property owner, regardless of whether the event was public of private.

[ Parent ]
That's debatable. (0.00 / 0)
Having opened her store for a political rally, where the politician doing the rallying invited everyone to come...I dunno, seems like she implicitly gave permission for anyone to come onto her property.  I'm not a lawyer, and it's discussions like this one that remind me why I didn't go to law school (at one level this is interesting, but at another level I find it utterly tedious/hair splitting bull****)! :)

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[ Parent ]
Ha. I agree -- on the hair-splitting tedious part (0.00 / 0)
I hate it when that happens to a thread, even though I'm doing my part in driving this one.

The real question is, whatever the legalities involved, why won't Cantor answer questions from his constituents.

[ Parent ]
Cantor won't answer questions (0.00 / 0)
because he's not FORCED to do so. And part of why he's not forced to do so is that even Democrats get into hair-splitting, tedious conversations even when something outrageous happens. Argh!

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[ Parent ]
Hair splitting (0.00 / 0)
(laughing) It is a party failing, isn't it?

[ Parent ]
Yes, very much so. (0.00 / 0)
Defending our constitution is one thing, debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin - in this case, the extremely gray area of what exactly happened at this event, whether it was "public" or "private" (false dichotomy alert), etc., is typical of our party, and why we so often lose. See "Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story," and find out how Republicans operate. Hint -- they don't split hairs, they chop off heads!

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[ Parent ]
Also, we're very good at losing the forest (0.00 / 0)
for the trees. In this case, the forest is the broad narrative of Republican thuggery and blatant contempt for core American values.

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[ Parent ]
Interesting comment at Daily Kos (4.00 / 1)
Speaking of "hair splitting," see here:
wrong on two counts

One, the owner took their money and provided them with product.  That makes them patrons of the establishment, and the owner is obligated to provide them the same service as other patrons, otherwise he has engaged in commercial fraud.  

Two, the campaign promotional materials were false and misleading, by a) failing to state that the event was in any way restricted to Republicans only, and b) further making the claim that "friends and neighbors" were welcome.  

Had the campaign materials stated that the event was open to Republicans only, or Republicans and Independents, or was closed to Democrats, the campaign would have a leg to stand on.

Had the owner of the establishment warned the individuals in question that there was about to be a closed event, and declined their patronage, he would have a leg to stand on.

As it is, the actual sequence of events involved misleading campaign advertising and commercial fraud.  And the courts will find accordingly.

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[ Parent ]
The Dems should run on that meme (0.00 / 0)
The R's simply hate America.  I've been saying it for years.  

You name it, the R's hate it if its a terrifically American thing.  

Public Education
Public Universities
Public Parks
Social Security
Unemployment Insurance
Abortion Rights
Civil Rights
Occupational Safety and Health standards
Collective Bargaining
Minimum Wage
Separation of Church and State
Freedom of Association
Freedom of Speech
Independent Judiciary

The list can get very, very long

[ Parent ]
It is on just such "tedious hair splitting" that Constitutional rights hang (0.00 / 0)
Even if the event was open to the public at large, it's still private property.

However, absent proof of disruptive behavior by the individual on the ground, it may well be an incident of invidious discrimination for which the owner, police and campaign may be liable.

[ Parent ]
Private again (0.00 / 0)
Screw all the comments including my own, basically it is a case about republicans that can't take the heat over any questions about their fraudulent actions probably during the bush years. No doubt the owner of the shop knew the democrats and sought to achieve a little mischief by throwing them out.
Cantor knows he has the election in the bag and is doing little as possible towards campaigning.
A few days ago  Rick Waugh's, Cantors dem opponent,car was vandalized by someone. Could have been by a Cantor supporter or someone strictly up to no good. Cantor's office responded saying they regretted the incident.

Stop the Miller/Paul/Cantor Axis of Violence! (0.00 / 0)



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