Union Astroturfers Bring Out the Riot Police in DC

The union astroturfers went to Washington on Tuesday in their purple shirts, their red shirts and their brown yellow shirts. They were out in full force to make “citizens’ arrests” of attendees at an insurance industry conference.  

The timing appears to have been prearranged with the White House as unions and their front group HCAN coordinated their protest with President Obama’s demonization of the insurance industry as he makes his “final push” for the nationalization of America’s health care with a bill that Nancy Pelosi is urging passage of before anyone can see it.

HuffPo’s John Cavanagh (one of the leading astroturfers) explains why he decided to breaking the law this way:

That dozens of leaders would risk arrest in confronting the corporations that stand squarely in the way of fundamental change represents a new moment for our social movements. There is a growing realization that giant health care, fossil fuel and financial firms will stop at nothing to block fundamental change.

According to the New York Times’ blog, today’s scene sounded more like a circus, complete with clowns from across the liberal and socialist progressive spectrum like Howard Dean, the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka, and the Queen of Labor herself, SEIU’s Anna Burger.

The bodies, pastel-colored stencils in the asphalt representing the estimated 45,000 people who die each year without health insurance, had eulogies describing how “big insurance” killed them. Inside the hotel, the industry lobby America’s Health Insurance Plans, was holding a legislative conference.

Former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont and Richard Trumka, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. labor federation, appeared in front of the dense crowd, which filled 22nd Street between New Hampshire Avenue and M Street.

The demonstrators, many of whom came from as far as New York and North Carolina, wrapped the entrance to the hotel in crime-scene tape, demanded that insurers get out of the way of health care legislation and called for passage that would include a government-run insurance option.

Union mag Labor Notes described the day as follows:

As health insurance lobbyists holed up in the Ritz-Carlton behind dozens of police in riot gear, thousands of health care activists surrounded the downtown D.C. hotel in a peaceful but pointed demonstration of anger and support for health care reform.

The entire crowd was “deputized” to make citizen’s arrests of insurance lobbyists for blocking health care reform.


Declaring the Ritz a “crime scene” because of the insurance lobbyist meeting being held there by America’s Health Insurance Plans, Trumka led a delegation of leaders to deliver an arrest warrant for leading insurance lobbyists.

Blocked from the Ritz entrance by barricades and riot police, the delegation scaled nearby planters and led the crowd in deafening chants demanding police “arrest the real criminals!” while others taped off the building with bright yellow tape emblazoned “It’s A Crime To Deny Our Care.”

Strange words from people who choose to break the law (as John Cavanagh put it) to “arrest” conference attendees for…attending a conference.

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Photo attribute: Creative Commons.