Unrest over sweeping federal health care legislation has turned to vandalism and threats, with bricks hurled through Democrats' windows, a propane line cut at the home of a congressman's brother and menacing phone messages left for lawmakers who supported the bill.
More than 100 House Democrats met behind closed doors Wednesday afternoon with the FBI and U.S. Capitol Police. The FBI is investigating the instances, which include shattered windows at four Democratic offices in New York, Arizona and Kansas. At least 10 members of Congress have reported some sort of threat as of Wednesday. No arrests have been made.
The brick flung through the window of a county Democratic Party office in Rochester, N.Y., over the weekend had a note attached: "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice," roughly quoting 1964 Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater.
A window at Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter's district office in Niagara Falls, N.Y., was smashed early Friday, two days before the House passed the health care overhaul bill, and Wednesday she said someone left a voice mail threat that used the word "snipers." "It's more disturbing to me that Republican leadership has not condemned these attacks and instead appears to be fanning the flames," Slaughter said.
House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio said in a statement that while many Americans are angry over the bill's passage, "violence and threats are unacceptable."
"That's not the American way," Boehner said. "We need to take that anger and channel it into positive change."
Sarah Palin's Facebook page used gun imagery to urge people to organize against 20 House Democrats who voted for the health care bill and whose districts went for the John McCain-Palin ticket two years ago. Palin's post featured a U.S. map with circles and crosshairs over the 20 districts.
Despite Democrats' complaints, the Republican National Committee continued on Wednesday to operate a Web site, FireNancyPelosi.com, showing an image of the House speaker surrounded by flames,
Some of the anger over the bill spilled over in a flood of obscenity and threat-filled phone and fax messages to the office of Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich. His office released some of the messages it has received since the bill passed.
"I hope you bleed … (get) cancer and die," one male caller told the congressman between curses.
A noose was also sent to Stupak's office with the message: "All baby killers come to unseemly ends." Stupak was the antiabortion Democrat on the House floor when Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, shouted "baby killer."
In Virginia, someone cut a propane line leading to a grill at the Charlottesville home of U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello's brother after the address was posted online. Perriello also said a threatening letter was sent to his brother's house. Tea party activists had posted the brother's address online thinking it was the congressman's home. The post urged opponents to drop by and "express their thanks" for the Democrat's vote in favor of health care reform.
Lyndsay Stauble, executive director of the Sedgwick County Democratic Party in Wichita, Kan., said a brick was hurled through the party's storefront plate glass window late Friday or early Saturday, landing in her office and gouging her desk. She said that written in marker on the brick were the slogans, "No to Obama" and "No Obamycare."
"It was surprising and alarming to know that people, when they have so many opportunities for expression in this country, that somebody would resort to a brick," Stauble said.
In Tucson, Ariz., someone either kicked in or shot out a glass door and a side window at the congressional office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords early Monday, hours after the House health care vote. Giffords voted for the bill.
Information from the Washington Post was used in this report.