Even before yesterday's March For America in Washington, D.C., many of us were aware that Roy Beck of the nativist anti-immigration outfit NumbersUSA was trying to whip up nativist sentiments at his site over the march -- which, according to the Washington Independent, actually attracted more than 200,000 people.
Sure enough, he showed up with a cameraman and three bodyguards. By the time it was over, the D.C. SWAT team descended and told Beck he had to remove himself from the crowd, and one of the bodyguards later was arrested for his reported assaults on a women.
What happened was this: A group of female mimes attending the march evidently decided they weren't going to sit idly by and let Beck use their event as a platform for his usual fearmongering propaganda -- they told Andrea Nill at the WonkRoom their intent was to keep Beck and Co. from picking any fights with marchers -- so they proceeded to make life miserable for them.
I came upon the scene rather late in the game. I'd heard there were some physical confrontations, so I set out in search of Beck and his crew. Before I found him, I spoke with two legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild on the north side of the mall who said they saw one of the bodyguards put a mime in a headlock. They also said the mimes had a large cluster of balloons they were using to annoy Beck, and the bodyguards were aggressively popping them; by the time the whole entourage had made it across the mall to the south side, the observers said, most of them had been popped.
I came upon them a short time later, and as you can see there were indeed only a handful of balloons left. You can also see the bodyguards popping those remaining, at one point grabbing one attached to the woman's wrist. They were subsequently followed down the mall by the whistle-tooting mimes, who did their level best to ruin Beck's interviews, as you can see. Then at one point a very angry black woman began venting her anger over Beck's presence.
Shortly after this, the D.C. SWAT team came over and pulled Beck aside and demanded he take his act to the next block, which was only lightly occupied by immigration marchers. And then they warned the mimes away when they tried to follow. (I later spoke with a young man who told me he had complained to the SWAT team that Beck and his crew were assaulting people, upon which they sprang into action.)
I interviewed Beck shortly after this (which I'll run shortly as a separate post). Then, after I walked away, police arrested the tall African American bodyguard you see in this video harassing the mimes.
Nill has more details on the arrest:
However, that doesn’t explain why Beck’s bodyguard is the one who ended up being arrested and charged with assault yesterday. Lena Graber, one of the three mimes who pressed charges against Beck’s bodyguard, talked with Wonk Room this morning. Graber explains that she and four other mimes followed Beck and his crew around for four hours in an effort to prevent Beck from picking a fight with demonstrators. According to Graber, Beck’s bodyguard pulled out a pocket knife and started popping the mimes’ balloons. Graber cannot provide details on the assault charges filed by the other two mimes, but she did provide an account of what happened to her yesterday:
They were pretty aggressive and they would sort of elbow us out of the way and say “Don’t touch me” as they were doing so. One of the bodyguards had white makeup all over his elbow and he was all upset that the mimes had gotten makeup on him…but our makeup was on our faces and I wasn’t face-bunting anyone so I felt like that was more incriminating evidence than anything else.
We each started with about 15 balloons that were on ribbons and the taller bodyguard had a pocket knife and he would grab the balloons and pop them with the knife. And at one point when I still had a lot of balloons they were tied around my upper arm…and I felt this yank on my arm where they were tied around. And I turned and he was pulling on all of the ribbons…so that was the only time I talked, I said “OW, that hurts. That’s attached to my arm, stop that.” And he didn’t stop and so I screamed as loud as I could. [...]
And oh yes: Apparently Beck and Co. have filed a complaint against the mimes and the SEIU peacekeepers whose work you can see here.
Here's Beck's own self-pitying video: