The above video is the cell phone footage taken by Jon Taylor’s son during his arrest in Louisa, Virginia. Something has made me uncomfortable about this video for the past 24 hours.
First off, we have to footage of what precipitated this scuffle. From what I can tell, Taylor, his wife and son went to the Solid Grounds Coffee Shop on Main Street in downtown Louisa. They had accepted an RSVP on the Cantor Website. Ms. Taylor was carrying a sign for Canter’s opponent.
According to the Richmond Times Dispatch:
The car, parked at a meter directly in front of the restaurant, was Taylor’s. His wife sat inside. A poster for Democratic candidate Rick Waugh, calling Cantor a chicken, was taped to the car window facing the coffee shop.
Taylor said Cantor had promoted the event on his website, so he assumed it was a public event.
“We RSVP’d,” he said.
He and three other Democrats went inside the coffee shop with the intent of asking questions of Cantor, who has declined to debate Waugh.
Taylor said the coffee shop’s owner asked the Democrats to leave. When they refused, the police escorted them outside.
Taylor said he was body-slammed to the ground. 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 10 minutes, shook hands with the guests and left.
If the Solid Grounds Coffee Shop was open for business during the normal work day, then it might be in some trouble. Was anyone else allowed to bring in signs? If yes, then the owner could not allow some signs and not others. What exactly were the Democrats doing disruptive? It appeared to be open to the public. Shop owners are not allowed to just cater to a certain group if open to the public. Remember the segregated dining establishments? That didn’t work then and it won’t work now.
It sounds to me like the Solid Grounds Coffee Shop should have closed for the event and just allowed their own kind inside the doors. Virginia is not a state where this kind of behavior is really an acceptable standard of behavior. If you are invited, via a website, to an open event, and especially if you have RSVP’ed, those tresspassing charges are going to be mighty hard to stick. In fact, I would be looking for a lawyer if I owned the coffee shop and also if I were the Louisa bubba sheriff’s dept.
Something just isn’t right here. Political dissent is normal and should be expected. If the event was just for Cantor supporters, invitations should have been issued and collected at the door. Events like these should have security to ensure these sort of events don’t get out of control. The entire unfortunate episode seems like amateur day in the country. Everyone should have done better, especially the Louisa County Sheriff’s department who just look absurd and ridiculous.
Not wanting to risk debates, Cantor risks come ugly campaign scenes. One happened Monday in Louisa where he appeared in a small coffee shop, supposedly to meet voters.
One man attending was John Taylor, a member of the Louisa County Democratic Committee and backer of Rick Waugh, Cantor’s Democratic opponent. Taylor and two others were asked to leave the coffee shop, told that it was sudenly “private property.” County police then subdued Taylor, as can be scene in this 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. If Cantor says he wants to debate voters, as he did emphatically during his “Young Guns” book tour, he should do so and not hide behind GOP gatekeepers, a newspaper where his wife has influence and a rural police department.
Peter Galuszka of Bacon’s Rebellion Blog also has some observations that question the on again off again concept of private property. Virginians need to be assured that incidents like this do not happen during an election cycle ever again. We are not thugs.