Rand Paul supporter apologizes for stepping on activist's head

Lexington Herald-LeaderOctober 26, 2010 

A supporter of Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul is apologizing after he was seen on video stepping on a liberal activist’s head.

Tim Profitt, a volunteer with the Republican’s U.S. Senate campaign, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the camera angle made the scuffle Monday night appear worse that it was. He criticized police for not stepping in and says other supporters warned authorities about the activist.

Paul has cut ties with Profitt, of Paris, Ky., who allegedly assaulted a liberal activist during a rally Monday night in Lexington, his campaign announced Tuesday afternoon.

Paul had been criticized earlier in the day for not denouncing the attack strongly enough, but the new statement said Paul is “extremely disappointed in, and condemns” the actions of what it called a supporter.

“The Paul campaign has disassociated itself from the volunteer who took part in this incident, and once again urges all activists — on both sides — to remember that their political passions should never manifest themselves in physical altercations of any kind,” the statement said.

The incident happened as Paul arrived at the Kentucky Educational Television studio on Cooper Drive in Lexington for a debate with Attorney General Jack Conway, his Democratic opponent.

Lauren Lizabeth Valle, 23, an activist with MoveOn.org, tried to get close to Paul to give him a fake award portraying him as a tool of big business, as the group has done elsewhere.

However, at least two men in the crowd grabbed her and pushed her down. Profitt put his foot on her shoulder and shoved down forcefully on her neck and head.

Police are investigating the incident as a fourth-degree assault. Anyone with information on the identities of others involved in the incident is asked to call Lexington police at (859) 258-3600.

A spokeswoman for MoveOn said Valle went to a hospital on Monday night to be checked and has a concussion. She was not admitted.

The stomping was one of two reported to Lexington police outside the debate. Paul supporter Marsha Foster, 49, reported that earlier in the night a person had intentionally stomped on her broken foot, causing “minor visible injuries,” according to a police report. Foster could not be reached immediately for comment.

Valle was trying to get her picture taken with Paul and present him an employee of the month award from RepubliCorp, a fictional name MoveOn is using around the country to illustrate its argument that right wing groups are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the election to help the GOP take back Congress, said Eliza Brinkmeyer, a spokeswoman for MoveOn,

Valle told police the men “intentionally forced her to the ground and began kicking her in the head,” according to a police report. She reported pain in her left temple.

Police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said Tuesday that detectives were reviewing videos of the altercation.

Paul’s campaign released a statement calling the altercation “incredibly unfortunate.”

“Violence of any kind has no place in our civil discourse and we urge supporters on all sides to be civil to one another as tensions rise heading toward this very important election,” the statement said.

On Fox News Tuesday morning, Paul said there was a lot of passion on both sides when he showed up for the debate. Scores of Paul and Conway supporters had gathered in the parking lot of KET.

“It really was something where you walk into a daze of lights flashing, people yelling and screaming, bumping up. There was a bit of a crowd control problem,” Paul said on Fox. “I don’t want anybody, though, to be involved in things that aren’t civil. I think this should always be about the issues. It is an unusual situation to have so many people, so passionate on both sides, jockeying back and forth and it wasn’t something that I liked or anybody liked about that situation.”

Justin Ruben, executive director of MoveOn.org, said in a statement that he was “appalled” by the incident.

Read the complete story at bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com

McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service