Incident mirrors similar mob scene at Busby-Bilbray debate witnessed by ECM
By Miriam Raftery
ECM reporter Mary Paulet contributed to this report
November 5, 2010 (San Diego) – In the sore loser category, Republican Nick Popaditch wins hands down.
Multiple credible news sites have reported that after Democratic Congressman Bob Filner was declared winner by a 20-point margin, a mob of Popaditch supporters, including Tea Party and white supremacist members, cornered and spat on Popaditch’s opponent, Filner. Video by the Chula Vista Star News reveals that Popaditch cursed at Filner, called him a liar, and made no efforts to calm down an increasingly virulent mob that forced Filner out of Golden Hall’s Election Central and into the lobby. Filner told CityBeat that he was shoved by Popaditch.
“Last night, Nick Popadith made Election Central a threatening and unsafe place to be,” CityBeat’s Dave Masse wrote. Mayor Jerry Sanders’ security detail ultimately rescued the Congressman from the mob, CityBeat reported.
East County Magazine reporter Mary Paulet interviewed a witness, Robin Buse, during the altercation, whose statement confirms Filner's allegation. Buse told ECM that she saw Popaditch push Filner. “I ran and got the cops,” added Buse, a Filner supporter. Others, fearful for their safety, confirmed assaults by Popaditch and his supporters.
A second witness, who asked not to be named, said she also saw pushing and cussing. She added that a Popaditch supporter also pushed a Filner supporter.
East County Magazine editor Miriam Raftery, also at the scene, spoke with yet another distraught person who said “Popaditch just went after Filner.” Raftery photographed police officers moving in to calm down the mob.
A Southwestern College Sun reporter said that a Popaditch supporter punched a Filner supporter in the face, that Popaditch backers spat on Filner supporters and chanted “Bob’s a bitch.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune quotes Filner as saying “It was like a mob scene…there was violence in their eyes."
Popaditch supporters chanted loudly, drowning out everyone else in the room, pressing inward while shaking fists and shouting in angry tones. Citybeat reports that Popaditch supporters were angered because they believed Filner misrepresented Popaditch’s voting record in ads, however the ads
were technically correct. The ads stated that Popaditch did not vote for many years, which is true; however the ad omits to mention that Popaditch did vote more recently.
Popaditch, a combat veteran and former Marine drill sergeant whose unit helped topple the statue of Saddam Hussein, was medically retired after losing vision in a grenade explosion. The eyepatch-sporting veteran, “seemed more like a military commander than a candidate when he tried to take Election Central by brute force and intimidation,” Masse wrote.
Now an avowed white Supremacist follower of Popaditch, who uses the nickname “Aurick the Great White Elf” on a White Supremacist website, Stormfront.org, has posted video on YouTube filmed during the incident. The video incites followers to violence, CityBeat reported. Calling the election a “complete fraud” the narrative ads, “Total war is all that’s left to us! I saw the beginning of it last night and so did you…they tyrants are still in power!...We have rebel friends around the world too that will join us in our eternal struggle.” Aurick admits on Stormfront to being a Ku Klux Klan member. And rails against Jews, noting “Jews secretly control the world.” Filner is Jewish.
Aurick’s video of the mob scene at Golden Hall, intersperses images of AK-47 guns, militias, the Irish Republican Army and more, and a “Sniper at work” sign. Aurick also changed his profile image from a Beavis & Butthead sketch to a photo of a man wearing a ski-mask, armed with a shoulder-mounted assault weapon.
Popaditch , who uses the nickname “Gunny Pop” on Facebook, thus far has said nothing to disavow the violent and threatening actions of his followers—and instead has acted like the leader of the pack. His website claims he is ready to “charge the Hill for our country and protect what our Founding Fathers fought for.”
He appears to have forgotten that our founding fathers fought a war of independence to create a democracy. When that democratic process proved Filner the winner, reelected by voters in his district by a hefty margin, Popaditch could have opted to concede defeat graciously—as other prominent losing candidates on both sides of the political aisle have long done out of respect for the integrity of our democratic electoral process. Instead, Popaditch demonstrated support for anarchy, violence, and mob rule.
East County Magazine was the only media present when a similar incident occurred following the Francine Busby-Brian Bilbray debate. Bilbray supporters surrounded Busby, chanting loudly and pushing inwards, refusing to back off when asked repeatedly. An ECM reporter witnessed that altercation and multiple witnesses inside the circle confirmed that the were concerned about a mob mentality. A Chamber of Commerce president, concerned for Busby’s safety , escorted her and a campaign aide to the parking lot.
In both cases, supporters of the candidates whose backers formed the mob attempted to dispute the facts with blog posts claiming they were not the instigators. But photos and in the Popaditch case, multiple videos make clear that these were organized and orchestrated efforts to intimidate and possibly harm our public officials –something that should not be tolerated in a democracy, regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with the views of those in power.
On a night when Republicans took back power in the House of Representatives in many districts, San Diego voters chose to reject Popaditch’s strong-arm tactics to reelect Filner, who has been a powerful voice for veterans, minorities, and the poor in his South San Diego County district, which includes southeastern portions of East County and Imperial County.
San Diego Police and Sheriff officials should dispatch extra security to events where Democratic Congressional officials or candidates are present in the future, if these two disturbing incidents are any indication of a trend.