Who Was This Man Volunteering For?

IMPORTANT UPDATE: The man has been identified as James Winfrey of Cedar Hills, MO. Sen. McCaskill’s office has told us that he was not working for them or the college. Beyond that they have no other information on the man. As he was not there in any official capacity, we errored in identifying him as one of Sen. McCaskill’s henchmen.

Also I’m replacing the original headline, “Sen. Claire McCaskill’s Henchman Tore Up Rosa Parks Sign” with a more appropriate title, given today’s developments.

As I wrote to my college Lori late, last night, part of what amused me about the reaction of the left is that people were so quick to assume that the man was a rabid right-wing nut because the outcome (as opposed to the video evidence) played to their preconceived notions. I’m fairly certain the man is a member of some group, be it right-wing, left-wing, and he’s probably very concerned with people following the rules… I’m sure we’ll find out eventually.

Given the information I had last night he looked to be involved in the event. Today is appears that is not the case, though he may be a member of an organization that attended the event.

Read the updates below.

Wow there’s lots of outrage at the lefty blogs tonight over video, shot Tuesday by Democratic strategist Peter Glickert, of a disruption at Sen. Claire McCaskill’s (D-MO) health care listening forum at Jefferson College Field House. The clip is running on all most of the cable networks, and angry posts denouncing “teabaggers” and anyone who does not drink the Obamacare kool-aid as deranged, dangerous, swastika carrying nutcases are plentiful.

Here’s the video…

And here’s how Glickert describes it…

The news only showed the woman being escorted away by the police. What happened was the women walked in with signs, the crowd booed and yelled at the women. The women rolled up their posters and put them down. A photographer/reporter approached the woman on the end and wanted to see what the poster was. As the woman went to show the photographer/reporter what the poster was, a man from the bleachers stood up and snatched the poster from the woman and photographer/reporter. As the woman went to retrieve her poster the police stepped in and escorted the woman and the man from the building.

And here’s what the blogs are saying…

  • Huffington Post: “When the woman unrolled one to show to a journalist, an angry man in the crowd rushed over and tore it up. A poster of what, you ask? Rosa Parks”
  • Pandagon: “Low-life teabagger protester tears up poster of Rosa Parks at health care town hall”
  • Sensico: Some low class teabagger went over to the two women grabbed the sign and ripped it.
  • Daily Kos – White people booing Rosa Parks and then ripping up her poster in public. These rightwing Republicans are racists, and they’re crazy. That’s just a fact at this point.
  • Pam’s House Blend – MSNBC’s David Shuster covers the teabagger crazy who tore the Rosa Parks poster.
  • Talking Points Memo – Man Arrested, Woman Escorted Out Of McCaskill Town Hall Over Sign Incident

The list goes on…

There’s only one problem, as this blown-up closeup of the video clearly shows.


What’s that on the back of his shirt? Yes, it says, “VOLUNTEER.”

It seems pretty likely that the man who tore up the Rosa Parks posters was working at the event in some sort of capacity for McCaskill. As the TPM link indicates it looks like he got arrested later. It will be interesting to see exactly what he was doing there, and who he was representing.

Earlier McCaskill warned the crown that signs were not allowed.

Political signs, as McCaskill warned during the event, were not allowed inside the Jefferson College field house. (College policy, not McCaskill, prohibited the signs.) Somehow, one audience member was able to carry in a sign, content unknown.

Somehow every single cable news network has missed this so far…

Update: Here’s a photo of the man being arrested. He still hasn’t been identified.

Given the heated atmosphere, the announced policy, and the man’s shirt it looks more likely that the crowd is applauding the enforcement of the announced rules, which everyone else in the audience is clearly abiding by, than cheering the destruction of Rosa Parks posters. Those cheering can’t even see the posters.

For what it’s worth Organizing for America (Obama’s campaign arm) signed up 636 people who said they were attending the meeting, and the St. Louis Tea Party group was not officially attending since they had already met with McCaskill.

Update 2:

We spoke with a representative of Senator McCaskill’s office this morning. The office indicated that the man, James Winfrey, of Cedar Hill, MO was not working for them or the college. Other than that they have no additional information at this point.

At STLToday, a commenter identifying herself as his daughter leaves this:

The “sign grabber” is my father, a man who stops to help people stranded alongside the road, dedicates his time weekly to the poor, gives all his money to the church, and would do anything for ANYONE! our family grew up around African Americans, 3 out of 5 of his children have dated individuals of color whom my father has treated like his own children. He is not racist, he does not see color. He sees people. He is not an aggressive person. He did not even know the contents of Ms. Johnson’s poster; he was upset by the fact that her breaking the “no poster” rule was being rewarded by positive media attention. My father did not see this individual as a women, as African American, or any other separatist adjective you can blow this into. He said to me in explaining the story, “it just wasn’t fair.” Now granted, it wasn’t his duty to remove the poster from this women’s possession, and he realizes this now. But there was no assaulting nor physical harm to the individual, just misjudgement from both parties involved. I’m sure if given the opportunity, my father would be falling over himself to apologize for his misjudgement and promise Ms. Johnson there was nothing racial about it.

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