I tell the facts as I know them. I also comment on citizen journalism and on areas of agreement and disagreement between progressives and conservatives, as indicated by the counter-protesters' signs.
The alleged victim says that the conservative woman bent her finger back. What was particularly disturbing, she said, was that this finger was already under treatment for an arthritic condition, for which the victim is taking prednisone.
I have photos and a video of the alleged perpetrator, as well as a photo of the alleged victim.
In the following photo, the alleged victim can be seen from behind
speaking with police; she has what appears to be a bandage on her
I heard the alleged assailant say that she is "disabled." The alleged victim also says she heard her say this, but she also says she saw her running -- which would typically be difficult for a disabled person.
The alleged victim says that the alleged assailant spoke with the police and claimed that she had been pushed by others in the crowd. The alleged victim says that the police are reluctant to pursue the matter, but she says she has another witness.
Here's a video of the alleged assailant, who can be seen shouting and gesticulating:
In the video, the alleged assailant can be heard saying "I dare you" and "Shut me up." Someone else says, "She's crazy." The alleged assailant says "...out of my face" and walks away laughing. All during this interchange, the speaker, Mike Grady, Mercer Island City Councilman, is quoting from President Kennedy about our obligations to society. I recall Mr. Grady asking the audience to ignore the disrupting woman.
And here are some photos of the alleged perpetrator disrupting the speech.
On Thursday, Sept 3, the alleged victim attended a health care rally in Seattle, where she said that a conservative man was loudly playing an accordion during a speech. He repeatedly warned the crowd not to touch him. Nobody touched him, she said, though his accordion playing made it difficult to hear the speaker. The alleged vicim said, "They want to get people agitated. They go out of the way to see if they can cause trouble." We discussed whether the accordion player was within his free speech rights.
Note 1: I am not a professional journalist, and while I am taking precautions to be accurate and fair, I am writing this story more as a blog or diary, not as a professional-quality news story. I have neither the time, the skills, nor the resources to do a thorough investiation of the story. Investigative journalism takes time, skill and money. I respect journalists who are able to quickly write up a high quality story for a daily newspaper.
Note 2: Articles in a printed newspaper or magazine are "immutable": once they're published, they can't be changed. Online articles can be updated as more information becomes available. Yet news sites and their readers are not accustomed to such "mutable" stories. People generally expect the news to be fixed (unchanging). Blogs allow for the addition of new comments at the end articles, but it is awkward at least (and unethical in the worst case) to allow the main article to undergo major changes, since the comments may no longer apply and it could cause confusion and anger.
Anyway, what I'm getting at is that online journalism may need a new model for "mutable stories" -- which can be updated as more information comes in. Perhaps each addition can be annotated. Or perhaps the older versions of the article can be relegated to accessible but less prominent pages. Perhaps this is not a new idea.
Note 3: The alleged perprator's sign says "I don't want Obamacare. I want tort reform and accountability and a competitive insurance industry." I'm not sure what she means by "accountability"; presumably, she does not mean accountability for war crimes and torture. Tort reform may be a good idea, but from what I've read, it's not a significant cause of high medical costs. As for competitiveness in the (medical) insurance industry, I couldn't agree more! So, it's possible that conservatives and progressives have some things they can agree on. Specifically, lots of progressives oppose HR3200, the House health reform bill, because it mandates private medical insurance and funnels tax dollars to private insurance companies. A much better solution, according to most progressives (including me), is single-payer health care. Obamacare (an ill-defined program) is likely to have problems; many progressives think it'll be a give-away to the insurance industry. Indeed, the health care rally was convened by Organizing for America (a continuation of Obama's campaign organization), but many of the attendees are solidly for single-payer, and there was some muted tension between the factions.
The conservative counter-protesters may want more competition and possibly even some regulation, but they almost certainly don't want government-sponsored health care. For example, one of their signs said "REFORM YES, SOCIALIZE NO". Another sign said "Effikient GOVT?? HA!!!" (Does the "k" inidicates facism?) Another sign says "LET MARKET CONTROL COSTS." So, while there may be areas of agreement, there are deep areas of disagreement between conservatives and progressives. Duh.