June 14th, 2010
12:17 PM ET
8 years ago

Congressman involved in on-camera confrontation

 Rep. Bob Etheridge is shown in a video, posted online, getting into a physical confrontation with two young men.

Rep. Bob Etheridge is shown in a video, posted online, getting into a physical confrontation with two young men.

(CNN) – Rep. Bob Etheridge is facing questions Monday after a video was posted online showing the North Carolina Democrat getting into a physical confrontation with two young men who eventually identified themselves as students and asked the congressman whether he "fully supports the Obama agenda."

"Who are you?" a clearly frustrated Etheridge replies when the two men approached Etheridge with a camera on a Washington street. When the purported students did not answer, Etheridge is seen slapping the camera out of one of the individual's hands.

Later in the video, which has clearly been edited, Etheridge is seen grabbing the wrist of one of the men and again repeatedly asking, "Who are you?...Tell me who you are."

"We are just here for a project," one replied. "We are just students, that's all we are."

In the video, currently posted on the website of Andrew Brietbart - a conservative commentator and online news aggregator - the students faces are obscured and they never fully identify themselves or their affiliation.

"I have a right to know who you are," Etheridge responded, still firmly gripping the man's wrist. The Democrat then briefly grabbed the individual's neck before letting him go.

Etheridge has represented North Carolina's second congressional district - located in the central part of the state – since 1997. He was reelected in 2007 with 67 percent of the vote.

Update at 12:55 p.m. ET: Ethridge apologizes

Filed under: Bob Etheridge • Popular Posts
soundoff (160 Responses)
  1. Wha?

    After that O'Keefe kid (ACORN doctored video; false identity to gain access to LA legislator) I'm going fight every kid that comes at my face with a camera too. All Bob has to do is say one sentence, and someone goes home, reedits it to make it look like something else. Can't trust these little snakes these days.

    June 14, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. Dave

    I tell people all the time that this country is headed towards a civil war. Not a metaphorical civil war, and ACTUAL civil war. Whenever I say this people scoff at me like I am some lunatic. Look at this video, then look at the comments on this post. There are blatant, unapologetic and overt calls for violence from BOTH sides. Does it really seem that crazy that someday it all boils over? Although I know what side I will be on if this war happens while I am still alive, I hope and pray something changes so it may be avoided.

    June 14, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |

    Assault, for the verbal abuse.
    Battery, for touching his camera and body.
    Kidnapping, for restraining by his arm and neck.

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE will someone file criminal charges!

    June 14, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. Tony

    I don't understand how anyone can justify the Congressman's actions. Whether these men were students simply working on a project or political operatives purposely attempting to aggravate him in hopes of a confrontation; he had no right to physically restrain them. They never blocked his path or layed a hand on him, to prevent him from simply walking on. The Congressman's own apology admits he regrets his reaction and gives no indication that the two men did anything to warrant such an aggressive response.

    June 14, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  5. David

    LOL... Yes Jeff Brown, put Breitburt in jail!! That will solve all our problems!! Then when our congressional leaders show their true face like this one did no one will see them!! OH BUT WAIT! There's Youtube! And this video would have been on there.....HMMMM.... YOUTUBE SHUT DOWN! Your a genius!......No... better yet they said they are students?? SHUT DOWN THE COLLEGES!!

    June 14, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  6. stupid video

    It was edited so it's hard to take it at face value. I know I would want to know who the is sticking a camera in my face and snapping pics. A couple punk ids come up to you and start videoing and snapping pics in your face you wouldn't want to know who they are? He grabs the kids wrist, woopie. Punk repub kids who've been brainwashed by their ignorant parents. The ACORN tool is the same way. What they should be doing is going to school and learning what politics is all about and that all they are is a tool for the repub party to try and smear the other side. Anyone with half a brain can see the repub party is nothing but a group of old cronies with their own interests in mind. They get nothing done and use childish tactics like these to convince non-thinkers to vote conservative.

    June 14, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  7. Ben

    Sniffit – "Man. Seems like it's plants everywhere with these conservative types"

    There's nothing "planted" about this. This is entirely a Democrat screw-up. Be a man and accept it for what it is.

    Sniffit and his merry band of glue-sniffers are at it again, spreading lies and misinformation.

    June 14, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  8. BILL, WI

    Well if anybody did set them up it was done based on knowledge of some prior pattern of behavior. He is a jerk elected to office.

    And who do you think is behind the story of Sara Palin's supposed boob job.

    And who do you think is behind the SC election where a complete unkown is elected. Now the Dems are calling it a Repub conspiracy, except for one thing, who actually elected the guy.

    June 14, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  9. Anthony

    What a creep!

    June 14, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  10. vic of New Yotk

    More Republican "Acorn" pandering? If these "students" couldn't identify themselves up front – they have no one to blame but themselves.

    Meanwhile the unholy filth of the Right are pandering to the Oil Companies and Reb Bonher is looking to let BP off while American taxpayers get stiffed with another clean-up bill brought to you by the TEA Party Conspiracy.

    June 14, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  11. Dillon

    Last time i checked breaking the law is breaking the law democrats! or have you forgotten the existing consitution and bill of rights?!

    June 14, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  12. Dale

    What's funny here is that even the passive viewers that believe anything told them (hello, Fox News viewers!), much more the media, isn't taking the bait this time around. A heavily edited video that blots out the "students" and edits in sound, but somehow it's supposed to tell the "full story"? No, it's baiting and thus can't be taken seriously. Heck, in some quarters, such jumping with the videocamera by these two goofballs would make his reaction a defense against assault.

    Have the full video with unedited sound play, with the "students" identified and I would bet those who are "astonished" by this will get a completely different picture.

    June 14, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Doesn't matter what this Congressman thought, he had no right to grab anyone like that. If any one of us regular folk did it we would be in jail!

    June 14, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  14. Bill

    How ridiculous looking at these partisan comments attempting to justify the Congressman's actions. If he had an (R) beside his name instead of a (D) these same identical people would be screaming bloody murder about fascist politicians and whatnot.

    Bottom line is that it doesn't matter if it's a Democrat or Republican, his actions were clearly illegal.

    June 14, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  15. mjm

    That kid looks so small compared to the congressman. What a freakin bully. That video's content didn't seemed to be edited. They just added in a few message boards. You think the congressman could handle a few kids better than that.

    June 14, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. Bill

    Rep or Dem or citizen, you can not put your hands on someone like that. He need to be arrested. He looked and sounded drunk.

    June 14, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  17. RIAtty

    Stick to the facts Mooney – stop trying to spin this story.

    By describing the incident as "getting into a physical confrontation with two young men", you imply that both parties were aggressive. They were not.

    You describe Etheridge as "clearly frustrated." That is not fact. The best clue here is that you inserted the word "clearly." A federal judge once told me that whenever you see someone use the words merely or clearly – you can bet that things aren't so mere, and not so clear.
    Ditto when you describe the video as "clearly edited." You did so to imply that the behavior was provoked and the provocation had been edited out. Note that both camera angles have been posted in their entirety on Youtube. There is no provocation.

    Finally, your article failed to note the most striking thing about the student's behavior. They were remarkably polite. They asked a tough question, but did so politely, and continued to be polite throughout Etheridge's assault & battery.

    Why did you manipulate this story?

    June 14, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. Timinator257

    Rickster, others defending this boob – can you put aside your politics for a sec and OBJECTIVELY look at the situation? Did you even bother to look for the RAW VIDEO before rushing to defend this atrocious behavior??

    June 14, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. Andrew

    Really people? Confrontation, normal reaction? Planted or not, agenda or not, if someone is asked a question, the proper response is not a physical one. He is a public servant, Dem or Pub, makes no difference. You all need to remember that they answer to us, not the other way around. If this was involving a Republican/Ind Congressman, you would all be up in arms demanding impeachment.

    The point is becoming clearer and clearer from the far left and the far right... Do as we say and not as we do. As I recall, Libs wanted Bush out for a war in Iraq, a suffering economy, poor response to Katrina and a near 3 Trillion dollar deficit. Look now, a war in Afghanistan (and Iraq), a suffering economy, a poor response to the oil spill and a ~7 trillion dollar debt that will reach 19 trillion in 2014. What have you brought to the table that is so different or better than the past 8, even 30 years? Nothing. Stop supporting and defending the actions of your party when they are no different than the other parties actions. Your hypocrisy is a pretty obvious.

    Stop being a blind servant supporting a candidate solely on the name of that party. See what changes have actually happened, see if your life and life style has gotten better, stop blindly believing everything the weekly news letter from your party states. The only difference between domestic and international policy/agenda over the past 30 years is the man who sits in the White House. Stop fighting against your neighbor and take your country back. I hope your not too lost to understand that.

    June 14, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. Timinator257

    The law is the law is the law. Us "Tea Party" types (as well as anyone else with a shred of common sense) just want unified application of the law. Well, that and not spending our grandkids into oblivion.

    June 14, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  21. paul

    CNN really tried tried to spin this one but, you can see this is clearly a case of assult. This congressman should be arrested and thrown out of congress.

    June 14, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  22. jenn, philadelphia

    some of these posts are amazing. something wrong (and illegal) happens involving a democrat and it's obviously a republican/tea party conspiracy. something wrong happens involving a republican and it's obvious that they're criminals. set up or not, assault and battery is not the proper response, regardless of political affiliation.

    June 14, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  23. boocat

    Another arrogant politicIan.. I swear some of these guys think they're above the law and better than everybody else....and all of you cons saying only Dems act this way...you're all full of it. Cons are just as arrogant so get over yourselves and your stupid party.

    June 14, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. Steve Lopez

    No excuse for his behavior. Video must be watched fully. Then, if the students did not assault him, then, they should arrest him. If that was m kid, I would wait for the Senator outside. If this was a prank from the GOP, then, find out who did it and investigate this further.

    June 14, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  25. sb

    No one it seems can keep things in perspective, let alone the congressman. These retorts are about as demonizing and lame as the response of a man gone haywire as this video portrays. Conniesz and those like her(?) got it right. But so many use this as just another excuse to further their own left or right extremist viewpoint, they miss the target altogether. There is no expectation that congress will improve, when the rest of us show no compromise.

    June 14, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
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