We've been saying all along -- practically since it happened, in fact -- that the right's claims that Tea Partier Kenneth Gladney, a black man, was victimized by SEIU "thugs" during a health-care protest was dubious at best, and Gladney's subsequent claims (particularly that this was a "hate crime") even more ludicrous.
Now it seems that a Missouri jury agrees:
CLAYTON, MO –(KMOX)–Almost two years after the national uproar over health care reform, a jury has acquitted two labor union activists accused of assaulting a man selling conservative buttons outside a Cogressman Russ Carnahan town hall forum.
Service Employees International Union members Elston McCowan and Perry Molens had been accused of misdemeanor assault in the August, 2009 tussle with button salesman Kenneth Gladney. The fight caught national attention at a time when there was rampant speculation the union had been dispatched to tamp down opposition to President Obama’s health care reform.
Jurors heard conflicting testimony in the two-day trial over who actually started the fight, and they viewed video tape showing the end and aftermath of the brawl — but no video showed who threw the first punch.
Of course, the wingnutosphere -- particularly those like Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit (aka the World's Dumbest Blogger), who heavily promoted the claims in the first place -- is outraged, outraged we tell you.
But as Adam Shriver at St. Louis Activist Hub observes:
The conspiracy pushed relentlessly for the past two years by Dana Loesch, Jim Hoft, Andrew Breitbart, Fox News, and the tea party has been shown at long last to be a complete fraud. Two innocent men have been harassed and threatened for two years as a result of a tea party smear campaign with only one objective: to make unions look evil.
Shriver covered the trial, and pointedly observed that Gladney's own testimony doomed the prosecution:
Gladney's testimony was the most damaging to the prosecution's case. For starters, Gladney appeared in a neck brace, which brought back memories of him showing up at a tea party rally in a wheel chair despite the fact that he was running around with no obvious discomfort immediately after the altercation took place. The defense lawyer said that Gladney's neck brace, which he was wearing because of surgery for a herniated disc, had nothing to do with the altercation, and Gladney did not challenge him on that point, so I assume it's true. But this opened up a criticism from the defense lawyer who asked Gladney why he showed up at the tea party rally in a wheelchair. Gladney said, basically, that it was hot and he was on medication and "they didn't have folding chairs or lawn chairs." Ouch.
... A more important problem for Gladney was that his previous descriptions of what happened did not match his current testimony. He previously had claimed that Elston McCowan, a black minister, had called him the n-word. In today's testimony, he now claimed that Perry Molens, a white man, also called him the n-word, which would be a strange detail to leave out of all of his previous interviews. More importantly, he had previously claimed that 4 different people "attacked" him, yet now he clams only two. He also claimed that he "never said a word" to McCowan, which I'm pretty sure is at odds with his previous interviews. And finally, his story of the altercation provided no explanation of why Elston McCowan was seen lying on the ground at the beginning of the video And all of this was despite the fact that he told the defense attorney that his memory today was as good or better as immediately after the incident happened.
And as Riverfront Times noted:
The defense also hammered Gladney on why he was seen walking around virtually unscathed in the immediate aftermath of the fight only to show up in a wheelchair two days later at a Tea Party rally.
Shriver also completely demolishes Hoft's new conspiracy theory about Gladney with an impressive array of facts. This guarantees, of course, that it will continue to enjoy a significant half-life of several more years as one of the Right's classic Zombie Lies.
Eric Boehlert is (as always) on the money:
As I said, the incident was regrettable and I'm sure everyone involved, if they had a chance to go back, would make sure the night did not unfold the same way again. But the idea that the mini-altercation was some sort of on-command union attack directed from the Oval Office and that it represented a looming wave of left-wing violence in this country? That was always a sick joke. It was a sick joke played at the expense of Gladney, and at the expense of two union members who were crucified by the right-wing press and called every conceivable name. All without a shred of evidence to support the union-bashing denunciations.