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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.

"He attacked three or four people? No. These guys were pretty big and burly," Brown said. "That's just impossible. That's just ludicrous."

A detailed write-up of everything I can make out in the video is below the fold.

Brown will be on Neil Cavuto's show at 4 p.m. today. Things will be clearer when there's a full police report available, but it doesn't look great for the SEIU guys that there are two of them to Gladney's one, that both of them are considerably larger than him, that Gladney's the one who ended up in the hospital, and that there are several people who don't seem to know him backing up Gladney on the video.

On Twitter last night, there was a clear effort from liberals to portray any scuffles from last night's town halls as the inevitable violent eruption of right-wing mob members, but it is interesting that there was no violence until the night liberal interest group HCAN and Dem members of Congress started calling in union members to "protect" them and host these events. It's also interesting that the only documented cases of violence thus far seem to be going one way. The Slapper, seen on Drudge and in these pictures (9-17), is local Tampa Democratic operative Karen Miracle.

That's not to say opponents of Obamacare were entirely without fault throughout the night, but thus far, there's much more evidence going the other way.

Write-up of the video below the fold.

Update: Gladney appeared on Neill Cavuto's show today, with David Brown. Some reports have called him a conservative activist, but both Brown and Gladney said he's not. Gladney, who is currently unemployed, was at the event to sell buttons and "Don't Tread on Me" flags to attendees.

"He said, 'What kind of n-word are you to be giving out this stuff?,' and he snatched the button board. I snatched the button board back and he proceeded to hit me in the face."

"They actually broke my glasses off of my face when they started beating me."

"I was just there to try to make an honest dollar and try to learn something about this type of gathering."

"I just don't think anyone should have to go through what I went through."

He also said he was not paid or asked to be at the event or to start any trouble.

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).

A black man and a white man, both wearing SEIU t-shirts walk away from the melee after other protesters bring attention to it, and call for police. The black SEIU member, rubbing his shoulder, says at one point, "He pushed me," as protesters accuse him of attacking the man in the tan shirt. The black SEIU guy sounds like he's looking for his "keys," but I can't be sure. In the background, the white SEIU guy is in a verbal argument with someone in a white polo who says, "You attacked him. You're going to jail!," which elicits and "F*** you" from the white SEIU guy.

When Gladney is brought back over to the scene, this time with an escort, he yells, "Where are my glasses?" at which point the black SEIU guy seems to hand something over to him, but it's obscured.

"What the hell is wrong with y'all?" Gladney exclaims. "Why'd you hit me? Did I bother you?" (0:43)

The camera then pans back to the man in the white polo and the white SEIU guy:

"You attacked that guy for nothing," says white polo.

"No, we didn't attack him for nothing," SEUI guy replied, adding something I can't understand. (:53)

As the camera pans back over to a bewildered Gladney and surrounding witnesses, you can hear White Polo say, "Two of you attacked that poor guy."

SEIU: "No, we didn't."

White Polo: "Yeah, you did!"

SEIU: "He attacked America!" (1:01)

At around 1:25, the person filming asks Gladney what happened.

Gladney: "That guy attacked me."

Cameraman: "Which guy?"

Gladney: "The black guy, there."

Cameraman: "Why?"

Gladney: "I don't know. I was standing there, you saw me. You saw me, I'm standing here selling my flags."

He flags down a cop car, at which point the rest of the video is of police cuffing a protesting white woman (not sure what her role was) and the white SEIU guy, who protests that he didn't attack Gladney; he was simply removing him from his fellow SEIU member. The police are also detaining White Polo, but don't cuff him or anything in the video.