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Eye Witness to St. Louis Scuffle: 'SEIU Representative Punched Him In the Face.' (Updated w Gladney Quotes)

3:00 PM, Aug 7, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Last night, as reports began to emerge of unrest at two big health care town halls in Tampa and St. Louis, a man on Twitter claiming to work with SEIU, claimed a handful of arrests in St. Louis had been Obamacare critics, and they'd been arrested for assaulting SEIU members. His report was dutifully repeated by liberals looking to paint the violence as caused by critics of the administration.

When I went looking for corroboration of his story, I found something quite different in this report from the Post-Dispatch:

Kenneth Gladney, 38, a conservative activist from St. Louis, said he was attacked by some of those arrested as he handed out yellow flags with "Don't tread on me" printed on them. He spoke to the Post-Dispatch from the emergency room at St. John's Mercy Medical Center, where he said he was awaiting treatment for injuries to his knee, back, elbow, shoulder and face. Gladney, who is black, said one of his attackers, also a black man, used a racial slur against him before the attack.

"It just seems there's no freedom of speech without being attacked," he said.

Six people were arrested: "Two of the people were arrested on suspicion of assault, one of resisting arrest and three on suspicion of committing peace disturbances, police say."

Today, video emerged, which looked like it might have captured the alleged assault on Kenneth Gladney. It was taken by someone from a blog named Missourah, who was shooting the scenes of the Carnahan event all night:

I just got off the phone with David Brown, a friend of Gladney's who was an eye-witness to the event. A St. Louis attorney, he plans to represent Gladney in civil action against the SEIU members he claims assaulted him. Brown confirms that the video above is of the fight in question. Brown has also written a letter recounting the incident, reprinted at Hot Air.

"There's three independent witnesses that don't know Ken at all that are in the police report. I'm pretty sure that they corroborate each other's stories," Brown said.

This is his description of the incident:

"He was handing out flags to anybody who wanted them...The SEIU guy came up to him and said, "Why is an n-word like you handing out these flags?"

"Kenneth didn't say anything to the guy. Before Kenneth could even say anything or act in any way shape or form, the SEIU representative punched him in the face."

"He went to the ground. Subsequently, two other SEIU representatives or members, however you want to say it, jumped on top of him, yelled racial epithets at him...kicked him, punched him."

Brown said Gladney told him he was also kicked by a woman, but Brown didn't witness that part. Gladney then went to the hospital, Brown said.

"He sustained some injuries to his back, some bruising," he said.

Brown said a black male with an SEIU t-shirt and a white man in an SEIU t-shirt were both arrested on suspicion of assault, while another man left the scene before police got there. A woman was arrested in connection with the incident, but not for assault. Brown was not sure of the charge. The incident happened around 9 p.m., he said.

His account seems to match up with the Post-Dispatch report, and would account for three of the six arrests-two for assault, and one on lesser charges.

His account also seems to line up with parts of the video, which starts after the scuffle begins and includes Gladney himself and several witnesses claiming the SEIU guys attacked him. In the video, a black man in a tan polo shirt (Gladney) is clearly being picked up and pulled to the ground by a much larger white man wearing the signature purple SEIU t-shirt (:05).

Brown said he read on a liberal blog today that Gladney, who Brown says is well under six feet and weighs about 150 lbs., had attacked the SEIU guys, and they were simply defending themselves.