Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Danville Tea Party Leaders To Meet With Rep. Perriello

This article is a follow up to Silence The People!, which appeared here on the Swamp Fox Files last week.

“The Tea Party movement has come too far to be marginalized by these tactics. They shouldn’t be scared [to speak up].”

Last week, after the story of the Danville Tea Party leaders’ encounter with some unpleasant events broke on the 912Project’s website, I posted my take on the events. Earlier today I had the pleasure of speaking over the telephone with Nigel Coleman of the Danville Tea Party, and Michael Ernette. Mr. Ernette is not a member of the Danville Tea Party, but was there and a witness to the events that unfolded.

Mr. Coleman informed me that US Rep. Perriello’s (VA D-5) office has contacted them and set up a meeting scheduled for Thursday, August 6, 2009. It seems Rep. Perriello is denying any knowledge of the situation, and was not even aware they were there until the following day.

Mr. Coleman said that he plans to take a camera to record events, but the bottom line is, he just wants his questions answered. Questions that he was denied the privilege of asking on July 18.

As of this writing, the Danville Tea Party leaders have not received any response from the Commonwealth of Virginia Attorney General’s office. Mr. Coleman sent a letter to the Attorney General’s office on Monday, July 20, to request that the tactics used at the Townhall meeting be looked into.

According to both Mr Coleman and Mr. Ernette, the Virginia State Police consider the whole matter a closed case, with no further “surprise” visits.

Mr. Ernette said that he is concerned with how the media may portray the Thursday meeting the Danville Tea Party leaders will have with Rep. Perriello (an event which he will not be attending). He said that “Big people are following this situation, and it would hurt if the media makes Tea Partyers look stupid.” And that, he said, is a “Big problem.”

Other than a brief, and what Mr. Ernette states was a “slanted” article, the local media outlets have been silent on the events of July 18.

The attention to this situation has come from bloggers like the Swamp Fox Files, and the 912Project. Thanks to the event being reported on the 912Project’s website, Politico and Yahoo! News picked it up, Mr. Ernette told the Swamp Fox Files.

“Why were we not questioned at the event?” Mr. Ernette stated over the telephone on Tuesday. “We were encircled by members of various agencies.”

Mr. Ernette said that he was perplexed by the actions of the various police agencies involved on the day of the event, and the follow up meetings. And it seems as though there were several agencies involved: the Virginia State Police, what appeared to be Secret Service agents and members of the Department of Energy Protection Unit. Until my conversation, I was not even aware of such a police unit. (The existence and purpose of the DoE Protection unit would entail an entirely separate article, not to mention their purpose of being there. Suffice it to say for now, that their presence at the Townhall meeting is curious at best.)

Mr. Ernette stated he and the Tea Party leaders were informed that the Virginia State Police was there to assist another agency—the Department of Energy Protection Unit. He said they were also told that the police wanted to ascertain whether the protesters, meaning he and the Danville Tea Party people, knew how to ask a question. The problem with that statement, Mr. Ernette said, is that Secret Service agents stood with them the entire time they were there, and no one attempted to “see if they knew how to ask a question”.

“Why were we not questioned at the event?” Mr. Ernette stated over the telephone on Tuesday. “We were encircled by members of various agencies.”

Mr. Ernette said for him, the scariest part of the whole ordeal is the fact that police were sent to intimidate them after the event. Police arrived at the residence of Bobby Conner, the other Danville Tea Party leader, approximately 48 hours after the Townhall meeting.

Mr. Ernette said that the Virginia State Police considers the matter closed, and that the State police and the Department of Energy refuse to return any of their calls.

For now, their questions remain unanswered. Why were they not allowed to ask any questions on July 18? Why did a Pittsylvania County Deputy, who called their license plates in while they were eating at an area fast food restaurant, follow them? Why did the police show up at Mr. Conner’s residence 48 hours later? Why was Mr. Ernette followed on his was home?

Mr. Ernette said that he is not concerned with notoriety. He wants to make sure that the story is told so that the next group of people at a Townhall event is not intimidated. People should be able to ask questions without any fear of reprisals, he told the Swamp Fox Files.

“The Tea Party movement has come too far to be marginalized by these tactics. They shouldn’t be scared [to speak up].”


The Swamp Fox Files is grateful to Mr. Nigel Coleman and Mr. Michael Ernette for agreeing to speak on this matter. While every effort was put forth to insure the accuracy of the statements and the events described above, any errors and inaccuracies of this article are due to the errors of the writer, and should not be construed as negligence on the part of the gentleman interviewed.

For verification of these events read the article that appeared in the Daville Register & Bee, "Tea Party Criticizes Rural Tour in Pittsylvania County", and you can contact the Virginia State Police.


Anonymous said...

Funny, the TEA Party members left after Perriello said, "this is the last question". Also, Mr E. is incorrect, he was wandering around the event, and even stopped to talk with another blogger and I. No Secret Service was following him then???? The Secret Service positioned themselves before the event even started and since they were close to the front, where the podium was set up, their claims are suspect.

The Swamp Fox said...

I am always suspect of 'anonymous' commentators. Mr. Ernette and Mr. Coleman were more than willing to give their names identifying themselves as real human beings.

See links added to end of the post.

Anonymous said...

Micheal Ernette writes:
"I did talk to a lib blogger and his friend, BEFORE the event...After speaking with them, I excused myself, took my place with the TEA partiers, and 10 mins later TP and gang showed up.

"So I did speak with them, but was in my spot long before the event started, and didn't see them again the rest of the time."

Karl said...

Current conservatives have forgotten the Christian folks who laid the foundation for the modern conservative movement.

Tea Partiers of 2010 and beyond should learn from and be inspired by those who courageously rose in rebellion in 1974. Please see http://www.insectman.us/testimony/text-book-war.htm.