Angry teabaggers and other opponents of health care reform are heckling members of Congress at their town hall meetings back home in an effort to sway the debate and drown out reform supporters.
This weekend, a group of teabaggers showed up at a town hall in Philadelphia with Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. They shouted and booed to drown out remarks from both officials and questions from the audience. The Philadelphia Tea Party Patriots reportedly brought 40 people. Watch:
In Austin on Saturday, protesters followed Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) out of a forum at a grocery store, chanting “Just say no!” after he told the crowd he’d vote for a health care reform bill even if his constituents opposed it. Watch.
These aren’t the first incidents of this kind, but we think it’s a pretty safe bet they’ll continue and intensify throughout August.
Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) has suspended town hall meetings after screaming protesters disrupted a June 22 forum in Long Island to the point where residents called the police to escort Bishop to his car.
Last week, a crowd erupted into thunderous applause after a soldier demanded an apology from Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) at a town hall with her staff. (The senator wasn’t there.) The meeting was moderated by Americans for Prosperity’s Missouri chapter. AFP was a major organizer of the tax day “tea party” protests.
Make sure to check out the teabaggers’ strategy memo obtained by Think Progress.
Late update: We’ll be adding more incidents as we track them down.
On July 6, Rep. Dan Maffei (D-NY) held a town hall meeting that devolved into a shouting match, with tea party protesters loudly interrupting whenever someone mentioned a public plan. Maffei threatened to break up the meeting, and has since said he plans to hold smaller, less publicized events with constituents.
Late late update: On Saturday, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) showed up to a restaurant, where he was supposed to hold one-on-one meetings with constituents, to find 150 angry people who demanded it be a Q&A, town hall style meeting. Murphy and his staff obliged, and changed the format at a second event held later in the day.
The crowd “erupted in a chorus of boos and catcalls” when Murphy said he thought Obama was doing a “pretty great job.” Murphy tried to keep the crowd cool, admonishing hecklers from time to time to be respectful.
Late late late update: Saturday was a red-letter day for these protesters. A group shouted the Pledge of Allegiance at Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) as he left a local Democratic Party picnic, where he had pushed for universal health care. Watch: