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Mugged at the RNC by a Republican Candidate for Congress
by Jeff Grubler
Sunday Sep 7th, 2008 10:20 AM
A Republican candidate for congress grabbed my McCain mask while I was performing street theater and the police grabbed me.
Mugged at the RNC by a Republican Candidate for Congress

Ed Matthews, the Republican candidate for Minnesota’s 4th Congressional district, mugged me for my McCain mask while I was performing street theater at the Republican National Convention. At about 5:30pm on Thursday, September 5th, my friend and I were at Rice Park in St. Paul performing skits and songs entitled “Insane in the McCain-Brain” and “Bomb Iran” while wearing Bush and McCain masks. Ed Matthews, along with a tall man with a potbelly (also a delegate), came at me from behind and started pushing and grabbing for my mask. Matthews was yelling, “That’s my sign,” and I yelled back, “This is my mask,” and “Don’t touch me.” Ed Matthews was finally able to wrench the mask out of my hands and I responded by pulling his RNC credentials off his neck. Ed Matthews then screamed, “Give me my credentials,” and I yelled, “Give me my mask.” At that point the big guy with the potbelly and another man (who did not identify himself as Capital Police) grabbed me and began yelling, “He stole a delegate’s credentials.” I struggled with the two men until I was thrown to the ground by a uniformed officer who cuffed me while keeping his knee on the back of my neck. A crowd made up mostly of Republican delegates began yelling at the police (on my behalf), “He did nothing wrong,” and “It was the other guy who started it.” Yet I was taken into custody and Ed Matthews was whisked into the Xcel Center with my mask.

I’m going to condense the story a bit here. After about 45 minutes the police released me. They could have charged me with resisting arrest, attempted theft or conspiracy to commit terrorism or anything they wanted just like they had done for the hundreds of other protesters caught in their dragnet over the course of the convention. So why did they just let me go? I’m betting that they explained the best they could to Ed Matthews that if he pressed charges he would wind up making even more of a jackass of himself in public. When I returned to the spot where the incident took place several people approached me to tell me that they saw the whole thing and that they overheard Matthews tell the cops that he was running for Congress. I even had several Republicans delegates apologize to me for what happened.

The other question is why did Ed Matthews go so completely apeshit? Was he that upset that we were lampooning McCain and Bush? Probably, but oddly enough, my mask really was Ed Matthews’ sign. The friend I was performing these skits with is originally from Minneapolis and when we hit town he sent out emails and text messages to his friends asking for donations of materials to build our props for street theater we would be performing during the RNC. The “Ed Matthews for Congress” sign that I used to make my mask was one of the donations that came in. I just figured that it was an old sign that someone wanted to put to good use since foamboard can’t be recycled. Not being from the area, I didn’t even know Ed Matthews’ party affiliation. His campaign signs make no mention of him being a Republican and neither does his website. Like many Republicans these days, Matthews is attempting to play down or even hide his party affiliation. The fact that the mask was made out of a Matthews campaign sign still gave him no right to shove me or to rip the mask out of my hands. The campaign gives these signs out for free and once they do it is no longer their property.

There is another irony about this whole incident. While I spent the week chanting, “Drill – drill – drill,” at mock “Support Our Oil Companies” rallies outside of Big Oil sponsored Republican parties, Ed Matthews and his fellow Republican delegates were actually chanting, “Drill, baby, drill,” on the inside of the Xcel Center. Not only are they shameless, their chants are better than ours. In a press release posted on his Facebook page, Ed Matthews says, “I was proud to sign the American Solutions “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less” Petition this week. I invite the incumbent to get out of the pocket of the environmental lobby and do the same.” Folks, you can’t make this stuff up. I bet Congresswoman Betty McCollum (who, incidentally, does not hide the fact that she is a Democrat on her website) must have taken at least a million bucks of the money that “Big Environment” is throwing around. At the same time I highly doubt that Ed Matthews has gotten any of the millions of dollars Big Oil is handing out to candidates (of which 74% goes to Republicans). I have a feeling that even Big Oil knows a nut and a loser when they see one.

Jeff Grubler performs political satire and street theater with the Ronald Reagan Home for the Criminally Insane http://www.InsaneReagan.com