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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sanders Tells Disruptive Members of Town Hall Meeting Crowd to "Shut Up!"

After anti-Israel protesters shout him down, the senator tells them to shut up. Sanders' staff call the cops.

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 7:11 PM

Interrupted repeatedly at a town hall meeting last weekend, an irate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) yelled at disruptive audience members: "Shut up!"

The meeting, at Cabot's Willey Building Auditorium on Saturday, grew so heated that Sanders' outreach director, Phil Fiermonte, called the cops, according to Vermont State Police spokeswoman Stephanie Dasaro. Four troopers arrived partway through the event, but took no action.

"They basically were just there as a presence," Dasaro said. "Other than that, we didn't get involved. There was no disorderly conduct. No one was arrested."

A seven-minute video of the meeting was posted to YouTube Sunday by Marie Countryman, a Montpelier activist:
  

A shorter version of the same video
 was posted Monday by America Rising, a conservative political action committee that specializes in capturing liberal politicians' off-script moments. 



Neither Countryman nor America Rising could be reached for comment.

Both versions show Sanders growing frustrated after several audience members interrupt him answering a question about American support for Israel and Israel's incursion into the Gaza Strip.

"I don't want to be interrupted," he says. "A question was asked. It's a fair question. And I'm trying to—"

After several more interruptions, most vocally from a large bearded man in the third row, Sanders loses his cool.

"Excuse me," he snaps. "Shut up! You don't have the microphone. You've asked— You know, I don't want police officers here."

"Are you going to arrest people?" the bearded man shouts.

"No, I'm not going to arrest people," Sanders fires back. "But are you going to— Are you going to allow us to have a discussion?"

The bearded man then jumps up and shouts at Sanders to, "Come down here and be democratic."

A woman yells, "Occupied populations have the right to resist!"

"You're entitled to your views," Sanders says. "You've asked a question and I'm answering it. This is called democracy."

The exchange appears to have taken place after Sanders' staff called the police, as a state trooper is pictured standing calmly by the audience members as they interrupt the senator.

The longer version of the video includes more heated back-and-forth between Sanders and some in the crowd. At one point, a woman yells, "Fuck Israel!" 

"I'm sorry I don't have the magic answer," Sanders says near the end of the longer video. "This is a very depressing and difficult issue. This has gone on for 60 bloody years. Year after year. If you're asking me, 'Do I have the magical solution?' I don't. And you know what, I doubt very much that you do."

In a written statement, Sanders' spokesman said that the Cabot event was one of "four excellent town meetings" the senator held in the past week.

"Altogether about 650 people attended the meetings," the spokesman, Michael Briggs, said. "They asked great questions and there were good discussions about the major issues facing our country. In Cabot, unfortunately, five people tried to disrupt the meeting. Sadly, the state police had to be called in so the meeting could go forward."

News of Saturday's disruption was first reported Tuesday by the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. Video of the exchange was featured Wednesday on BuzzFeed.

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Paul Heintz

Paul Heintz

Bio:
Paul Heintz is Seven Days' political editor. He writes the weekly column, "Fair Game."

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