Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thoughts on an Alaska State Fair Confrontation Gone Viral

Shannyn Moore posted this video yesterday:

I. This guy, Sydney Hill, has been around the Mat-Su Valley with his Lyndon LaRouche paraphernalia for some time. He usually stands on one of the corners at the intersection of the Glenn and Palmer-Wasilla Highways, with his truck, signs and picture of Obama with Hitler moustache.

I suppose Hill's image was here and there on the internet before the youtube of the Thursday state fair incident got posted. Early last winter, Wasilla photographer and blogger, Bill Hess, posted an image of him, taken at the book signing of Going Rogue at the Wasilla sports center:Here's how Bill Hess described his encounter with this LaRouche bag:

And then this disciple of Lyndon LaRouche came along, moving up the line towards me, telling people that Obama's health care plan was identical to Adolph Hitler's in the 1930's, that Obama was taking us to the same place of annihilation and death that Hitler took the Nazis.

To be certain, this was a pretty conservative crowd, but most of those in line ahead of me ignored him - some recoiled when he approached - but not all.

Although I had pledged to myself that I would be the dispassionate observer this day, my blood boiled when I saw the picture of Obama with the Photoshopped Hitler mustache, when I heard the hateful and false words that the man spoke.

He must have sensed this, because he approached everyone in line ahead of me, but very deliberately stepped around me to the next person behind, the one that he shows his literature to here.

This man listened, looked and accepted his literature. After the follower of Lyndon LaRouche moved on, the man behind me held the picture of Obama up in front of the lady who appeared to be his girlfriend.

"This is classic!" he said. "This is a real classic!"

This was at the same December 22, 2009 book signing at the sports complex from which one of Alaska's preeminent political bloggers, Jessie Griffin, was ejected by the Wasilla police:

There were a few calls of "Sarah, Sarah" before the line started to wind its way up the stairs to have their audience with Queen Ester of the North. I thought "We better hurry if we are going to find a good place to set up our camera."

My first hint that something may be wrong down in Who-ville was when I was asked for my ID, not once, but twice. Then as Dennis and I were about to sign in, and the lady behind the desk took our picture with a little digital camera! WTF? I have never had anybody do that before at any other event that I attended as a media representative. I wondered why there was such tight security, unaware that my question was only seconds from being answered.

Almost as soon as I had my picture taken I felt a hand on my shoulder.

I turned around and came face to face with a local police officer who quickly apologized and then informed me that I was on the "banned list".

"I am on the WHAT list?" I asked.

"The banned list sir, I am going to have to escort you off of the property. This is a private event."

I looked over and saw Dennis talking to somebody else, and clearly receiving the same information.

On my way toward the door I stopped to wait for Dennis so that we could leave together, however the police officer again placed his hand on my shoulder and insisted that I continue on toward the exit. They clearly were under orders to get me off of the premises as quickly as possible.

Outside Dennis joined me and told me that he had learned that both he and I were on the banned list, along with Shannyn Moore, and that they even had pictures of us to reference for quick identification.

Another reporter headed toward the entrance overheard us and asked us if there were REALLY a "banned list". "Yes there is, and we are on it" was our reply. "I have never heard of that!" she said. Welcome to Sarah Palin's Wasilla.

So, in Sarah Palin land this LaRouche kook, who most likely was as armed at the book signing as he was at the fair, is allowed to spew his racist bile, but Jesse Griffin, who would do pretty much anything to help anybody in need, is thrown out of the building.

Reaction to the way Sydney Hill was dealt with at the Alaska State Fair has been mixed. Knowing that a guy this unhinged was armed is troubling. If he had a conceal-carry permit, it will now be revoked. He is probably going to face charges of trespassing, resisting arrest and disturbing the peace [see update at the bottom of this post].

Here's the official statement from the Alaska State Fair:

Regarding the incident on the Alaska State Fair Fairgrounds 26 August 2010:

Our concern is first and foremost the safety of our fairgoers, the families with their children who should be able to enjoy the fair without disturbance or potential danger.

We are in touch with the company with whom we have a contract for fair security to review what transpired. We are also in touch with the Palmer Police on this matter.

Because the fairgrounds is on private property, we reserve the right to remove someone from the premises who is creating a disruption or may pose a threat to the safety of others.

We welcome diverse viewpoints and have a structure in place at the Alaska State Fair that allows for peaceful discord and exchange at our vendor and organization booth area.

Comments at the State Fair's facebook page are fairly mixed, with a lot of people misunderstanding how the 1st and 2nd amendments - and others - pertain to a situation like this. In the comments section of the Frontiersman article on the incident, one can detect a lot of anti-Obama animosity:

The AK State Fair and their spokesman Mr. Phipps, may not understand the meaning of the First Amendment(speech), Second Amendment(firearms) and Fourth Amendment (search and seizure), but their vendors will certainly understand the meaning of less silver in their tills. Until the values of the AK State Fair management again reflect American values, I'm going to keep my money at home and not patronize the Fair. BOYCOTT THE FAIR.


What if the protester had 12 people standing next to each with 1 letter on their T Shirts that spelled "Impeach Obama"? Would the security guards just ask them stand so the letters were random? This sign consisting of people in T shirts could sit on one of those park benches. I'm betting that there would be an "unwritten" rule about this too?

and this weird comment:

I heard they are planning on building a mosque where he was arrested.

Update: In the comments, Brian writes "Hey Professor, he's already been charged. He was arraigned friday with criminal trespassing 2, disorderly conduct, and assault 4."


Anonymous said...

Someone commented elsewhere that the security guards were a bunch of reactionary hicks and employed by an Outside company.

That's not what I think.

I want to commend those security guards. None were armed with anything I could see, not even a flashlight and they were able to subdue this armed man without escalating it more than necessary. Being detained, is not assault. If you aren't smart enough to recognize that you may be in a situation which could lead to your detainment - then you deserve a little public display to prove that it ain't always about you.

It took me a day or two to actually watch the whole video after someone mentioned a loaded firearm.

They seemed to detain him and secure the weapon quietly and discreetly. My guess is the Alaska State Trooper who intervened in a mob situation recognized that.

Those people, inciting that incident -- and more particularly, stepping in and getting physically involved are the know-nothing creeps who act more like anarchists than patriots.

Brian said...

Hey Professor, he's already been charged. He was arraigned friday with criminal trespassing 2, disorderly conduct, and assault 4.

Philip Munger said...

Thanks, Brian. I've updated the post. I wonder why there was no weapon charge.

Anonymous said...

For once we may agree on something. I posted comments on a young woman's page about this guy being a crackpot carrying a gun and had her, a few friends and her ignorant older brother come unglued on me. The young woman informed me she could have taken the guy on if he'd pulled the gun...I guess she was going to do her yoga moves and catch the bullet in her teeth. The older brother refused to believe he had a gun although I gave him the ADN link talking about it, he said there was no need to read another person's take on the matter because he already had the right information. He couldn't see a gun is where he based his facts. Oh, boy!
The friends, well they proved to me it doesn't take a brain to breath.
Truly amazing!


Anonymous said...

Our society is coming unhinged. I'd like to just laugh at these idiots on the far right, but they really do kind of scare me.


Anonymous said...

If the guy is not a felon, I believe he has a right to carry a gun without a concealed carry permit.

Philip Munger said...

@2:42 - I've worked the fair. Signs at the entrance are quite visible, advising that no firearms are permitted on the premises during the course of the fair.

Anonymous said...

If this guy was sso unhinged, why didn't he shoot the security people? Being sat on by a guy who has to go 400lbs+ and another guy about 250lbs IS assault. If a pro BO protester was speaking on the ever present bull horn there would have been no problem. The brown shirts live.