Video shows Allen West supporters pressuring Democratic operative to leave vets eventby George Bennett | October 19th, 2010
The Florida Democratic Party late Monday released the above footage of a Sept. 26 incident in which Republican congressional challenger Allen West asked supporters to “escort” a Democratic opposition-research videographer from a public park in unincorporated Delray Beach where the West campaign had rented a pavilion for a “Vets For West” event.
The videographer — called a “stalker” by West — was surrounded by West supporters and pressured to get into his car. The Florida Democratic Party said that at one point the West supporters “physically knocked his camera away.”
A separate video below shows West’s remarks, with his comments about the videographer beginning around the 2:25 mark.
“I don’t want him here, please escort him away because this is a place of honor and the organization that you represent has no honor, so please leave,” West says. After a few seconds, West adds, “Please escort him away. Do not touch him. Just escort him away, please. Thank you…”
Read more after the jump, including the West campaign’s response…
West, who’s challenging Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, is facing criticism for his ties to the South Florida motorcycle community after an NBC News report highlighted an e-mail exchange between West and one of his supporters about the notorious Outlaws club.
In releasing the video Monday night, the Florida Democratic Party says the West supporters are wearing Outlaws affiliate patches.
“This is an unbelievably disturbing incident that shows how extreme and menacing Allen West is and how dangerous some of West’s supporters are,” Florida Democratic Party spokesman Eric Jotkoff said. “…The fact that Allen West thinks the basic campaign activity of filming a public figure in a public park warrants physical intimidation is unacceptable and outrageous. South Floridians deserve better.”
West campaign manager Josh Grodin offers a different characterization:
“The video shows the Democrat stalker at a private event in which the campaign rented a park (public park, but we rented the area) and held a picnic to honor the American veteran. He was asked to leave, and some of the Vietnam vets escorted him out. I don’t see Allen in anything except the first few seconds of the video in which he asked the stalker to leave. Again, we paid for a portion of the park to hold a private event, and the stalker wasn’t invited.
“This is not a biker controversy, but a media and Democrat driven non-issue. Most of those vets shown came in trucks and cars, not bikes. Every person I saw in that video was a vet. Klein does an awful lot of talking about how he supports vets, but talk is cheap. We find it appalling that the Klein camp is disrespecting veterans by making them out to be thugs and bullies. This was an event to honor those who served and sacrificed, and by sending this stalker to disrupt the day shows what little regard Klein has for the men and women who wore the uniform.
“Klein owes the veterans in this community a sincere apology and explanation for his lack of respect, but I’m not holding my breath.”
Here’s a report on the newly released video that aired Monday night on Miami’s WTVJ Channel 6.