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Talk show host Nicole Sandler arrested at tea party Rep’s town hall

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, April 27, 2011 12:05 EDT
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Update (below): Finally free, Sandler claims she was ‘maced’ by police while in jail

Second update (below): Raw Story obtains probable cause document for Sandler’s arrest

At a town hall meeting last night in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., staged by Rep. Allen West (R-FL), liberal talk show host Nicole Sandler was taken out of the event hall and arrested on camera.

She was initially just being removed from the hall, but Sandler shouted at the officer to take his hands off of her as they were escorting her out, likely providing a trigger for the arrest. Confronted by Sandler’s boyfriend, the officer did not say why he was arresting her.

Similar to other recent Republican town hall meetings, this event was loud and angry, with numerous hecklers hammering Rep. West on his vote to cut Medicare.

One man who repeatedly disrupted the event kept asking why West had nearly appointed as his chief of staff a fringe conservative who once advocated “bullets” as a political solution if votes didn’t accomplish their goals.

Unfortunately for the dissenters, West refused to answer questions from the audience. He instead chose only to address pre-screened and approved queries, essentially ignoring constituents who pelted him with criticism.

Overall, however, the audience appeared to be mostly supportive of West — which has certainly not been the case for his fellow House Republicans of late. The event was held on private property — in a megachurch which was actually outside of Rep. West’s district.

Sandler was a regular presence on the now-defunct liberal talk network, Air America Radio, and has since moved her show online. She’s also a regular fill-in host for The Randi Rhodes Show, which was one of Air America’s premiere programs.

Update: Finally free, Sandler claims she was ‘maced’ by police while in jail

Sandler has reportedly been released from police custody on a $25 bond, but individuals answering phones at the Broward County Sheriff’s Department and the Ft. Lauderdale Police Department refused to confirm this to Raw Story.

Sandler was reportedly charged with trespassing on private property after a warning. She had not yet returned a request for comment at time of this update.

She did, however, send an update to her online followers, which read: “I’m out of jail after 17 hours of incarceration for attempting to ask my congressman a question at a town hall meeting. More details soon.”

Speaking to a blogger at The Political Carnival shortly after her release, Sandler reportedly said that officers sprayed her with mace earlier this morning after she refused to return to a holding cell. This claim could not be independently verified.

Second update: Raw Story obtains probable cause document for Sandler’s arrest

A Ft. Lauderdale Police Dept. document detailing the arresting officer’s take on Sandler’s arrest has been acquired by Raw Story.

In it, officer William Rousseau claims that Sandler was told to leave the event because “her behavior caused many of the audience members to enter into a verbal altercation that threatened to become physical.”

The officer also claims that he instructed Sandler to leave the premises “at least a dozen times,” but that she would not. He further claimed that Sandler became “physically aggressive with this ofc., pushing me several times.”

Video footage does not seem to bear that out, and Sandler clearly agreed to leave the event. She did however shout at the officer that he should not touch her, but did not appear to resist when he decided to make an arrest.

Click here to read the full document.

Following her release, Sandler phoned-in to the Randi Rhodes show to discuss her ordeal. That audio is below.

The video below was published to YouTube by user Thesharktank1 on Tuesday, April 26, 2011.

This audio is from the The Randi Rhodes Show, recorded April 27, 2011.

Download MP3 audio file

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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