The Attack That Won't Die

More than a week after the Republican National Convention adjourned in St. Paul, Minn., the delegation that was assaulted by anti-Iraq War demonstrators has made it clear it will not simply walk away and let the attack on them be forgotten.

“We are going to find out who these anarchists were and who was funding them,” former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) told me on the final day of the convention.  Simmons was one of the 29-member Connecticut delegation that was struck with chlorox bottles as they attempted to enter the Xcel convention center.  Along with Lila Healy, the mother of State Party Chairman Chris Healy, and other delegates attacked by the demonstrators, Simmons had to be treated with water following the assault with chlorox.

“You want to know what they shouted?”  said Delegate Mary Ann Turner of Enfield, Connecticut, “’[Expletive Deleted] you!’”  Other delegates who were under fire offered similar descriptive renditions of the language and slogans used by their assailants.

83-year-old former State Party Chairman Fred Biebel, who had his credentials torn from around his neck (but later recovered and returned by arresting officers), told me he suspected the attacks were a means of getting credentials that would permit demonstrators to get into the Xcel Center and attempt to disrupt the acceptance speeches of nominees John McCain and Sarah Palin.  Sure enough, there was some shouting when McCain spoke, but the nominee good-naturedly urged his audience to ignore that “static.”

“And we saw this van open its doors, and then out came this bunch of clowns,” said Biebel, “Now, our bus had to stop seven blocks away from the convention center.  How did their van get within one block of the center?”

These are questions attorney Santa Mendoza hopes to get answered as she deposes the demonstrators who were arrested and jailed following the attack on Monday, September 1st.  According to the St. Paul police, 78 demonstrators were charged with misdemeanors and eighteen with felonies as of Tuesday.  Mendoza, the 1998 Republican nominee for attorney general of Connecticut, told me she planned to depose many of them to find out “who they are, who they are associated with, and who’s funding them.”

One lingering question is why those assaulted with chlorox did not fight back.  Electrical contractor Dave Manson of Stratford talked about that with me.  He said, “I was in the military for twenty years and have a big ring on [which he indicated to me] and Rob Simmons is a retired colonel and a Vietnam veteran.  We had people in the delegation who could handle themselves.  But that’ s just what those guys [the demonstrators] wanted:  to have the camera showing the mean-spirited Republicans beating them up.  So we didn’t respond.”

Now, in another way, they are.  Stay tuned for further developments.