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Unions Receive Increasingly Scary Threats Of Violence For Town Hall Participation

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Union officials continued to receive a barrage of threats on Friday evening and into Saturday punctuated by warnings that if organizers were sent to counter-demonstrate at health care town halls they would be met with violence.

An official with the AFL-CIO, a federation of labor organizations, passed on what he described as a "pretty direct threat" to those union hands who were showing up to balance out anti-Obama demonstrations being waged at local Democratic forums.

"I will be going to a local town hall this weekend, all you union members BEWARE!" an emailer wrote at 9:40 Saturday morning. "We will be waiting for you. better make sure you have arrangements with your local ER. today is the day when the goon meets the gun. see you there."

The email was first sent to the media-watching organization Newshounds before being passed to Eddie Vale, a spokesman for the AFL-CIO. The IP address used to post the email was traced back to Georgia.

The AFL-CIO isn't the only labor organization to be on the receiving end of threats of violence. During a day in which a woman called up its national office threatening to use her Second Amendment rights should her First Amendment rights be repressed, officials at the Service Employees International Union continued to be deluged with emails and phone calls with ominous undertones.

An official with the SEIU said she had received 50 such emails, including the following one, which was edited to make suitable for publication.

You socialist f---s have the nerve to say stop the violence at the town hall meetings when they weren't violent until you p---ies showed up because your n----- leader obama said to?????? When we have ours in Racine, Wi, I want you there. I want one of your little b----- to put his hands on this Marine. I want one of you to look or talk to me wrong. I'll be the last thing your ignorant faux body guards will remember for a very long time. You can f---ing guarantee that.

The escalating language and threats have caused union officials to grow increasingly worried about the possibility of serious violence at these town hall gatherings. On Thursday, a scuffle broke out outside a town hall in St. Louis, resulting in the arrest of an SEIU official and the injury of several participants. That same evening a near riot erupted in Tampa Bay after union hands tried to prevent an overflowing crowd from storming a town hall gathering.

Lawmakers, too, are feeling the heat to keep these forums civil. Though some are hosting events that don't allow for interruptions. A reader initialed B.W. offered this summary of a town hall he attended in Plymouth, Indiana, with Rep. Joe Donnelly, (D-Ind.):

"Instead of addressing the crowd and taking questions, his staff had every one fill out a card with a number and he met with people face to face," the reader wrote. "There were more people than time but at least 32 people spoke directly to him out of earshot of the rest of the crowd. The event had people with differing views on health care but remained very respectful. It was encouraging."

UPDATE: A Donnelly aide writes in to say that the type of event the congressman hosted is called a "Congress on your Corner" event. It allows for brief one-on-one exchanges between the congressman and his constituents and is a popular forum among the freshmen and sophomore classes in the House.

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