Mar 24, 2010 4:39 PM by Melissa Canone

Democratic Leaders Concerned About Safety

WASHINGTON (AP) - House Democratic leaders on Wednesday said
they are concerned about the personal safety of lawmakers because
of threats linked to intense opposition to the health care overhaul
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the FBI and
Capitol Police briefed Democrats on how to handle perceived
security threats and that those who feel they are at risk will be
"getting attention from the proper authorities."
Hoyer said more than 10 Democratic lawmakers have reported
incidents, but he did not whether any are now receiving added
security. Normally only those in leadership positions have personal
security guards.
Protests swirled around the Capitol during debate on the health
care overhaul last weekend. Protesters hurled racial slurs at
several black lawmakers and one protester spat at a black lawmaker.
Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the Democratic whip and a
senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said he has vivid
memories of history and that the scene on the street Saturday was
"very reminiscent of our history."
Bricks were thrown through windows at two Democratic Party
offices in western New York, including a district office of Rep.
Louise Slaughter, who played a key role in getting the health care
bill through the House.
The Tucson, Ariz., congressional office of Rep. Gabrielle
Giffords was also vandalized a few hours after the House vote.
Hoyer said there were incidents such as people yelling that
Democratic lawmakers should be put on firing lines and posters with
the faces of lawmakers in the crosshairs of a target.
While not directly criticizing Republicans, Hoyer said that
"any show of appreciation for such actions encourages such
Several Republicans stood on the second-floor Speaker's Balcony
overlooking the West Front of the Capitol cheering on the
protesters and waving signs such as "Kill the bill."
Hoyer said Democrats were talking to the Republican leadership
and hoped to come up with a united front on the security issue.
House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio said in a statement
that while many Americans are angry over passage of the health care
bill, "violence and threats are unacceptable.
"That's not the American way," Boehner said. "We need to take
that anger and channel it into positive change."


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