Peaceful protest turns hostile

Peaceful protest turns hostile

By BRAD GASKINS
Special to The Messenger
MARTIN — What started as a peaceful protest outside Congressman Stephen Fincher’s office Thursday afternoon ended 45 minutes later inside the office with Martin police diffusing an increasingly hostile situation.
Nine protesters, most carrying signs, gathered in front of the office to voice their opinion that Fincher should end the so-called fiscal cliff. The protesters supported a Democratic plan calling for extra taxes for those making more than $250,000 a year.
“Millionaires, fair share,” they chanted. “Middle class, not fair.”
The protesters also said Fincher should make himself more available to his constituents.
After about 35 minutes outside the building, the protesters entered the building to present Fincher’s office staff with a signed petition.
An office staff member said she would meet with them individually to take down names and specific requests for the congressman.
“That is complete nonsense,” one protester said. “We came here as a group and we want to be represented as a delegation.”
A Republican supporter, who was already inside the office when the protesters entered, then interrupted. When a protester argued back, the man pointed at him and said, “I will beat the dog (expletive) out of you.”
The man, who was not a member of Fincher’s staff, identified himself as an “anti-demonstrator.”
A member of Fincher’s staff told protesters and reporters they were not allowed to take photographs or use audio recording devices inside the office because it contained “confidential information.” The message was also posted on a piece of paper taped to the front door.
Martin Police Chief David Moore arrived and told protesters they could file complaints at the police department. The protesters exited the building and began voicing concerns to Martin police Lt. Phillip Fuqua.
“All I’m concerned with is if anyone wants to file a police report and if there’s criminal activity,” Fuqua said.
No charges were filed.
Editor’s note: Brad Gaskins is editor of The Weakley County Press in Martin.

Published in The Messenger 12.14.12

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