Bricks now thrown at lawmakers over health care vote

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WASHINGTON -- Law enforcement officials are investigating a series of threats against House Democrats who backed the recent health care legislation -- threats that have lawmakers on edge about potential violence against them in Washington and back home.

"We've had some very serious incidents that have occurred in the last 48 to 72 hours," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said at a news conference Wednesday, adding, "Any member who feels themselves at risk is getting attention from the proper authorities."

Mr. Hoyer initially wouldn't say how many lawmakers feel threatened, but when pressed, he said: "a significant number, over 10."

"A lot of members are concerned about threats since the weekend," said Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo.

Acts of vandalism have occurred at Democrats' offices throughout the nation in recent days. Bricks were hurled through windows of Democratic offices in three states, and some lawmakers have reported death threats.

A brick with the words, "No to Obama," "No to Obomycare" was thrown through the window of the Sedgwick County Democratic Party headquarters in Wichita, Kan., late Friday or early Saturday. Glass doors at the Monroe County Democratic Committee in Rochester, N.Y., were also broken by a brick. An attached note read, "Extremism in defense of liberty is not a vice," paraphrasing the late conservative icon, Arizon Sen. Barry Goldwater, known for his libertarian views.

Bricks were also thrown through district offices of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y. A message left on Ms. Slaughter's answering machine referenced snipers.

Alabama blogger Mike Vanderboegh published a post Friday that railed against Congress for taking up the controversial health care bill and urged readers to "break their windows."

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, was critical of the threats Wednesday. "There are a lot of angry Americans, and they are angry over this health care bill. They're angry about the fact that the Democrats here in Washington aren't listening to them," he told Fox News. "But I've got to tell you that violence and threats are unacceptable. It is not the American way.

"Yes, I know there is anger," Mr. Boehner said, "but let's take that anger, and go out and register people to vote, go volunteer on a political campaign, and let's do it the right way."

Congressional leaders are usually reluctant to discuss security publicly, but Mr. Hoyer spoke out after five days of reported incidents against supporters of the bill that House Democrats approved Sunday night and President Barack Obama signed into law Tuesday.

Mr. Hoyer said some posters had lawmakers' faces in the bull's-eye target. Former GOP vice-presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's Facebook page features a map with 20 gun sights where her political action committee, SarahPac, targets incumbent Democrats for defeat in November's elections.

The Los Angeles Times contributed.


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