Tempers flare at LaRouche demonstration in Freeland
By JUSTIN BURNETT
South Whidbey Record Island County
October 9, 2012 · Updated 2:18 PM
A political group that believes civilization is on the verge of collapse became the source of turmoil in Freeland last week.
Two people associated with the LaRouche Political Action Committee set up a table on the sidewalk in front of the post office Friday with inflammatory signs of President Barack Obama and seeking donations from the public.
One sign read, “A vote for Obama is a vote for nuclear war” while another had in bold, “Impeach, Obama Complicit Libya 9/11.” It contained a large a picture of the president with a superimposed Adolf Hitler mustache.
The unidentified man and woman team quickly became the subject of public ire. Some people called them names while others accused the pair of lacking an education, said Jenny Grisewood, a Freeland resident.
“I got into it too,” she said. “Their mere presence was inciting anger.”
Grisewood declined to repeat her comments, saying only that she “wasn’t very nice” and would apologize if given the opportunity.
According to Undersheriff Kelly Mauck, there were no reports of violence but the couple did call the police to complain that people were disrupting their efforts to speak to the public. An officer that was dispatched to the scene did not observe any crimes being committed.
Mauck said that wasn’t the first call his office received regarding the couple. Rather, officers had been fielding calls from the general public throughout the day and earlier in the week, he said.
Apparently people with the action group made at least one other appearance in Freeland, he said. People complained that they were blocking the sidewalk and traffic, but officers who spent time observing them never witnessed any laws being broken.
While people may personally disagree with their message, they were exercising their right to free speech in a legal place and the police had no authority to make them stop or leave, Mauck said.
“Really, there was no law enforcement action to be taken,” he said.
Grisewood said they may have been within their rights, but she felt their message was an abuse of free speech and twisted its intent.
“They were promoting hate,” she said.
According to Larouche Political Action Committee’s website, the group is centered on the philosophies and proposed policies of Lyndon LaRouche, who believes civilization worldwide is facing collapse.
Calls to the group’s Seattle office for comment Tuesday were not returned.Contact South Whidbey Record Island County Justin Burnett at email@example.com.