Hundreds gather at congressman's health care event

The Kansas City StarAugust 8, 2009 

LEES'S SUMMIT, Mo. _ Hundreds of people for or against health care reform filled a coffee shop here this morning and lined up for blocks to get in.

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Kansas City Democrat, did not take questions from the crowd. Instead, he met privately with about 75 people in what was to be a small monthly private chat session.

But the crowd stayed. People milled on the streets and sidewalks, holding competing signs, arguing or chanting.

"Just say no," shot one side. "Just say yes," fired the other.

Town hall meetings on the issue in other states have been disrupted by angry opponents who say they are just using their free speech rights. In Kansas City, the tone was far more sedate, but the event was not without some loud conflict.

Cleaver told those in JP Coffee: "I disagree with people who say (there are) crazy mobs and people are organizing to go and disrupt."

Cleaver would not discuss health care with the crowd, in part because there is no health care bill, just a series of committee proposals, he said.

Someone yelled, "That’s a bunch of …," and others chanted, "No ObamaCare."

Several shot back: "Let him talk."

Cleaver met privately with the constituents, mostly talking health care with them, and then left for another appointment.

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