August 7th, 2009
08:43 AM ET
5 years ago

Town hall meeting on health care turns ugly

(CNN) - A health care town hall meeting in Florida on Thursday dissolved into bouts of heckling and violent pushing and shoving among attendees.

The meeting in Tampa, which featured Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor and Florida State Representative Betty Reed, was another example of the tense battle lines that have been created in the passionate health care debate.

Hundreds showed for the meeting at the Children's Board of Hillsborough County, some carrying signs railing against President Obama's proposed health care reforms. Hundreds more were not able to get into the meeting room.

As Castor first began to speak, scuffles broke out as people tried to get into the meeting room. Parts of the congresswoman's speech was drowned out by chants of "read the bill, read the bill" and "tyranny," video of the meeting showed.

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Filed under: Health care
soundoff (142 Responses)
  1. Leo

    Democracy at its worst.
    Issues, partisanship and political orientation aside, civil discourse is what made the American experiment great.
    I am ashamed to see this reactionary group lower the level of debate in this country to senseless prattle.
    It looks like the Dems may just have to LBJ this one down their throats.
    (Incidentally, do these witless screamers view Medicaid and Medicare as tyranny as well?)

    August 7, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  2. Vince

    I've been able to listen and listen to my party's interpretation of the president's healthcare bill and agenda. And I was fine with that. HOWEVER, as of late I'm beginning to feel that I'm being misinformed. I would like to be able to go to a town hall meeting and hear for myself the honest questions and answers. I think these disruptive tactics will only serve to hurt every last one of us in the end. I hope I'm wrong. But if there's nothing to hide, then let them have their little town hall meetings. Let them talk without our being disruptive. Let them be proven wrong by their own accord. Please! We are a better nation that this. This is NOT the America I believe in . . . and this new kind of GOP is not the party I belong to.

    August 7, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  3. GI Joe

    I'm a registered Independent. That being said, I want to know the truth behind rumors so I signed up on one of those sites being advertised by the Right.

    I've received lists of talking points (weekly), instructions on how to disrupt townhalls and SPECIFICALLY what to yell and when to yell it, etc.

    They then deny. Folks – don't take my word. Put yourself on the mailing list (you don't have to donate). It's meant to STOP those that have questions – we have the right to get answers, we do not have the right to prevent everyone else from getting answers. Those disruptions are getting violent and they are taking away my rights and your rights to have answers.

    August 7, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  4. Pukey GOP

    Why doesn't CNN run a poll on these people when they leave the meetings and see how they voted in the election?

    I bet that almost all of the rabble rousers are GOP!!!!

    August 7, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  5. Cynthia in MI

    So what's next, thugs? Somebody gets trampled to death or a duly elected congressperson is injured or worse by some extremist following the dictates of their fanatical leaders? Such reverence for life is touching. Democrats need to take a page from the Republicans' playbook and speak only to invited guests who sign a loyalty oath.

    August 7, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  6. Jim

    sheesh. i understand this is a hot topic, but, people. you're acting beyond reasonable.

    August 7, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  7. JS007

    Some of the angry people are saying "give me back my America", and calling Obama a Nazi for trying to give them cheaper health care. When Bush was illegaly spying on them they seemed to be okay with big, intrusive government, so I suspect deep down this is mostly about race. Some extreme right wingers just can't cope with the fact that the President is black, half-black at that. It is truly sad because they are some of the ones that will benefit most from his policies designed to help the poor and the middle class.

    Screaming "no socialized medicine" and "leave my Medicare alone" in the same breath perfectly illustrates the level of ignorance of these people (they don't realize Medicare is a government program).

    August 7, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  8. JS007

    These "health care" protestors remind me a lot of the folks at the Palin rallies.

    August 7, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  9. skeeve

    Typical... Sothern states were always a drag of this country. If anything of meaning has to be done it had to be done over bitter resistance from the southern states. Interestingly... these are the poorest and the least educated states in the union. Funny how lack of brain and trend to conservative correlate. But then again no mater what source you look intellectual level of an average American is way lower then that of Europeans or Asians so I seriously doubt that any of these people in town halls actually understand what they are talking about. Indeed, ignorance is bliss

    August 7, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  10. Peggy - TX

    The protestors have gone far beyond their 1st amendment right to free speech, they are now simply trampling on everyone else’s right to free speech.

    What is clear, the GOP does not what the democratic party to educate the people on he proposes bills; rather the GOP wants drown out reasonable debate and disseminate miss-information.

    These protestors come across as nutty people that are not open to reasonable discussions.

    August 7, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  11. Carmen, Miami FL

    Regular Americans are now working on behalf of the insurance industry because they’re taken in by the use of buzz words like socialism and government-run healthcare. It’s ridiculous. What happened to respectful public discourse?

    At the end of the day, insurance companies are very good at what they do, which is make money—they’re not there to make sure you get better if you’re sick. Why do you think insurance industries are pouring millions of dollars into fighting against reform? Something needs to change, and the idiots disrupting these meetings make me furious.

    August 7, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  12. cedgar

    Why was some not allowed in the room?
    I would not think the Congress person would select against
    there own voters???
    I would be willing to bet the ones that were turned away will
    not be voting for the Congress person re-election!
    I bet they will be working against them!
    I know money is what it takes to run, but you have to have the votes
    to win!!!
    Please keep in mind they looked older.
    A quote comes to mind from a movie "Let's face it I m older and have
    more insurance than you"

    August 7, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  13. Renee

    Republicans really have serious control issues. I would not be at all surprised if they start to threaten people with their guns. They obviously don't want anyone to actually hear the message and ask poignant questions. They are all frightened to the point of paranoia.

    If anyone ever called me a Republican, I would consider it a complete insult.

    August 7, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  14. WYCLIFFE

    town hall mobs fueled by racial fears and being exploited by cynical healthcare opponents.

    1. people oppose goverment health care while they dont know medicare is a goverment program

    2. Political opperatives and some movements entertaining the idea that Obama is not a us citizen...remember the debate on birth certificate

    Please cnn cover this story

    August 7, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  15. jeremy.....Dallas...Texas

    What are these guys protesting against? We do not have any published bill in both houses so far. Whatever it is we need to lower rising costs.cover the uncoverd millions and have substitute to tyranny business health insurance companies where jobless americans like me can result to. Stop these republican rumors and chaos.

    August 7, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  16. CaveCreationFilms

    People are unbelievably selfish in this country. What is best for everyone is the availabilty of healthcare for all. It is a human right; the right to live, the right to be treated, the right for the rich and the poor to recieve equal care just because they are humans. We treat each other like dirt day after day but it is time to wake up! The greater good needs to be served not because the democrats want it, not because the republicans dont want it, not because of protests for and against, not because of president Obama. It is a human right for god sake!

    August 7, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  17. T KS

    What kind of an example are we setting for the future generations. Why are we teaching them that it is okay to mob and heckle those who are trying to conduct the peoples business in a quite and diplomatic way? This type of behavior is not representative of the American way of governing – in the United States we respect the voices of all those who care to participate in the process of making change. The hallmark to a great democracy is not in the few that try to push things by force, but rather from the many who peacefully debate.

    I think they need to print and hand out the info from this groups, including the description of how to disrupt meetings. It is very un-American to deny other citizens the right to discuss, debate and decide for themselves on this issue. This neo-nazi tactic is intimidation. These folks are being fed a constant diet of false, manipulative and misleading disinformation, with the intent of creating anger and fear. What they do not realize is that this is not 1993. This fear can turn to violence very quickly and is the most undemocratic activity I have seen in my lifetime.

    August 7, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  18. bill

    The right is acting as a mindless puppet for the pharma.

    August 7, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  19. southerncousin

    The libs and the state run media, all obamatrons,are really angering people with their accusations, intimidation, demeaning remarks ( I hope you all don't need me to cite the examples), but they are using the same tactic (intesified) that they used to demean and intimidate the TEA party folks. This is going to blow up all over the obamatrons and help assure a return to a republican congress in 2010. Libs and the Chicago thugocracy are not representing the people as they will need to learn.

    August 7, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  20. Peoples Voice

    And the shills live on. These people really and truly hate America.

    August 7, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  21. jrzshor

    i think many in congress forget that they are actually an equal part of the government. they forget (as most people seem to) that the president leads but is not in charge.

    rather than be sheepish shills for the (and any) leader, they have the obligation to question and question hard ,the policies that the leader would like to see happen.

    The supreme court (the other equal branch of gvt) does not seem to have this problem of questioning the other parts of gvt.

    So reading this bill (or any of them) MUST be the first step in questioning said bills.

    supporting your party's leader is nice BUT it should NOT be your first priority!

    August 7, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  22. ANGIE IN PA

    Some people have screamed out keep Goverment out of medicaid and medicare are you kidding me yeah these people are real informed when they dont even realize that Medicaid and Medicare are GOVERMENT PROGRAMS! Just goes to show you the Intelligence level of these nut jobs!! hahah lolol hahahahah

    August 7, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  23. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Police need to monitor these events in case a right wing nut gets out of line.

    August 7, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  24. Bob in Pa

    Well they the crowd is correct. These representatives need to stop working for the DNC and start working for the people. Read the stupid bill and understand it. Don't have a bunch of your flunkys read it and brief you on it.

    August 7, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  25. Melissa

    We need national health care, not privatized insurance companies. No more Republican mindset. No more hatred. No more fear. No more.

    August 7, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
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