Vandal smashes window at Democrat headquarters

Officials suspect damage tied to angry reaction over health care reform

Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010

ANCHORAGE - A vandal smashed a window at the headquarters of the Alaska Democratic Party, and party officials suspect the incident is tied to violence that hit other offices following the health care vote in Congress.

Democratic Party Chairwoman Patti Higgins said Monday the vandalism may have been a random act, but, "Nobody else's windows were broken around here."

The Alaska Democrats' office in Anchorage's Midtown business district is three doors from the campaign headquarters of U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, and across the street from Republican Gov. Sean Parnell's election office.

If not random, Higgins said, the incident likely was egged-on by language used by leaders opposed to the health care vote such as fellow Alaskan Sarah Palin. The former governor and vice presidential candidate - in recent postings on Facebook on the health care debate - has used firearm-related words such as "cross hairs," "reload," "bombing," "strong weapons" and "big guns." The words appeal to people who are mentally unstable, Higgins said.

"It's a very uncontrolled situation. She isn't leading them. She's just out in front of a mob," Higgins said.

Palin has dismissed critics who criticize her language as censorship by politically correct language police.

An aide to Palin on Monday referred a reporter to past Palin statements condemning violence, including a speech Sunday to a tea party rally in Searchlight, Nev. Palin criticized the media for casting her and tea party activists as violent. She told a crowd their votes were their arms and that activists who oppose the passage of the Democratic health care overhaul bill last week should channel their energy into defeating congressional Democrats who supported the legislation.

Higgins said that when Palin was on the road with presidential candidate John McCain, she gave speeches that roused racist, hate speech reaction.

"I didn't think she knew what she was doing," Higgins said. "But at this point in time, she knows what she is doing and she continues to do it."

Palin and other Republicans have an obligation to choose words responsibly, she said.

"I'm linking it to all of the members on the other side of the aisle who are calling for people to express their outrage in violent forms," Higgins said. "They need to knock it off."

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