Threats Have Increased Since Signing Of Health Bill


House Democrats are concerned about their security due to increased threats since Sunday's vote to pass the health care bill, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Wednesday.

Hoyer told a news conference that "a significant number, meaning over 10," had reported either threats, vandalism or other incidents. Capitol Police officials have briefed House Democrats on reporting suspicious or threatening activity and taking precautions to avoid "subjecting themselves or their families to physical harm," said Hoyer, D-Maryland.

Earlier Wednesday, the Albemarle County Fire Marshal's Office in Virginia confirmed the FBI was investigating a suspicious incident at the home of Virginia Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello's brother, days after the brother's home address was posted online by a Tea Party activist.

An aide to Perriello told CNN that a line to the propane tank on his brother's gas grill had been severed.
"While officials are not willing to characterize the exact nature of the incident because of the ongoing investigation, it did not involve an immediate threat to occupants of the residence," said Lee Catlin, Community Relations Director for the Fire Marshal.

"However, officials are taking the incident very seriously and conducting a vigorous investigation."
Catlin said the county joined the investigation late Tuesday after a request from the FBI.

In addition, Democratic offices in at least three states have reported instances of vandalism that party members say possibly were tied to Sunday's historic vote on health care reform.
Democracy "is not about violence," Hoyer said at the news conference joined by House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina. "It is about making sure everybody in America feels free to express their opinion and to take such actions as they deem to be necessary without subjecting themselves, their families or others to behavior, and frankly criminal behavior in some respect, that undermines democracy and undermines the safety of individuals."
Referring to Clyburn, Hoyer said "both us believe that to remain silent in the face of such activity gives the impression of either condoning or sanctioning such action."

The top Republican in the House, Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, said Wednesday that opponents of health care reform should protest legally.
"Violence and threats are unacceptable," Boehner said. "That's not the American way. We need to take that anger and channel it into positive change. Call your congressman, go out and register people to vote, go volunteer on a political campaign, make your voice heard, but let's do it the right way."
If we can get across to the other side that they are within inches of provoking a civil war in this country, then that's a good thing.

The Tea Party movement that has protested health care reform held demonstrations outside Congress last weekend as the House debated and voted on the health care measure. Three African-American House Democrats, including civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, reported protesters shouted racial slurs at them and spit at one of them, while Rep. Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts, an openly gay House member, had anti-gay slurs yelled at him.

During the demonstration, Republican House members encouraged protesters outside and inside the House gallery. On Tuesday, Hoyer said it was not fitting with regular order in the Capitol for members to cheer on protesters inside the House chamber or to hang signs from windows in the Capitol, or for Republican members to stand on the balcony just outside the House floor waving signs to protesters below.
"We ought to all be careful as leaders in this country to conduct ourselves in a way that demonstrates to the public how we ought to act," Hoyer said.

An Alabama-based blog, called "Sipsey Street Irregulars," says it has launched a so-called "window war" against Democrats and has kept a tally of the recent incidents of damage, including ones in New York and Kansas.

Blogger Michael B. Vanderboegh of Pinson, Alabama, said Monday that in a Friday blog, he called for people to break windows at Democratic headquarters at the city and county level. He said he didn't call for the damages to congressional offices because, "I didn't want to be responsible for anybody breaking a federal law."
However, "I can understand how someone can be frustrated enough to throw a brick through a congresswoman's window," Vanderboegh said. He said he feels the health care bill is "unconstitutional and tyrannical."

"My answer is violence, by getting their attention," he said, adding, "If we can get across to the other side that they are within inches of provoking a civil war in this country, then that's a good thing."


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