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[b]Election violence surfaces in South Florida
Published Tuesday, October 26, 2004
by Sean Salai [/b]
Election-related violence is on the rise this week in South Florida as impassioned Republicans and Democrats duke it out at rallies and the polls.
Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans and Independents in Palm Beach County, where voters last week began casting early ballots for the Nov. 2 general election, and strained feelings are already leading to hostility. In Boca Raton this weekend, county Republicans filled out police reports for shattered car windows at a Friday rally and a vandalism incident Sunday night at their headquarters.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Jenni Garrison, executive director of the Republican Party of Palm Beach County, said yesterday. “This is our first presidential election since 2000 and people are already nervous and scared about using the new machines. This contentiousness just adds to their anxiety.” Garrison said the nastiness is also evident from Republican volunteers, adding that she hopes both parties will crack down on it.
“I’ve already removed people from polling places for behaving inappropriately and antagonizing Democratic voters,” Garrison said. “We’ve also removed inappropriate signs. We’re not out there to harass the voters and behave like four-year olds. We’re there to support our president.”
Sunday’s incident occurred at the GOP’s Boca headquarters on North Federal Highway between 7 and 11 p.m. The unknown perpetrator tampered with the deadbolt on the office door, locking party workers out of the office when they discovered that their keys no longer worked.
“The brown shirts have arrived and they’re all Democrats,” said Sid Dinerstein, county GOP chairman. Also on Sunday night, a student leading a Republican protest at Florida Atlantic University saw her Ford Explorer vandalized by Democrats attending a John Kerry rally. University police responded to the incident and eventually broke it up.
“Some people surrounded us and started yelling obscenities and racist comments at me,” said Dana Roberts, FAU College Republican chairwoman. “I’m African-American and they were yelling that I’ve sided with the Ku Klux Klan. There were people telling them to stop, but they poured beer on the car and vandalized it with Kerry bumper stickers.”
Between 5 and 7 p.m. Friday, an unknown Kerry supporter drove by a GOP rally near a K-Mart on Palmetto Park Road and threw rocks and sand at rally-goers. Several car windows were broken. “I was singled out as the leader and had rocks thrown in my face,” said Jack Furnari, president of the Boca Raton Republicans.
Sources at Boca PD yesterday confirmed the two police reports, but declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office (PBSO) said there have been no arrests at polling places patrolled by her department. “We do have a law enforcement presence at polling places in our jurisdiction,” said Commander Diane Carhart, Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman. “No election-related crime has been reported to my knowledge.” Florida, along with Ohio and Pennsylvania, is one of three states where the presidential election is still a statistical dead heat between George W. Bush and John Kerry.
The Republican and Democratic candidates for president in recent weeks have joined party leaders for a multi-million dollar storm of negative campaigning and advertising throughout the state. Bush and Kerry, at rallies designed to motivate their party faithful, have accused each other of trying to scare the electorate in the same breath they relentlessly attack one another as radicals who very frighteningly don’t represent mainstream American values. “This is the big week,” said state Rep. Adam Hasner, a Republican representing South Palm Beach County. “Everyone’s a little bit on edge.”
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The term "democrat" is increasingly in danger of being equated with a mental defect. The party is clearly being overtaken by unstable whackos.
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