Iowa officials brace for Occupy protests

by
January 3, 2012

By EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE, Politico

Republicans across Iowa are bracing for trouble on Tuesday, concerned that caucus sites will be the next stop for the Occupy protesters who’ve staged demonstrations and disruptions at election events across the state.

Occupy leaders say they’re not planning to interfere with the voting, though they expect actions leading up the vote at candidates’ headquarters and afterward at victory parties. But even if 99 percent of the 99 percenters comply, the prospect of scattered protesters inciting confrontations with Republican voters has people from both camps on edge.

“Tempers can flare, and people can start to get out of control,” said Jack Whitver, a state senator and precinct captain for one of the larger caucus sites, just outside of Des Moines. “With a crowd of over 700 people, you just want to keep everything under control and make sure that something ugly doesn’t happen.”

Whitver promised a polite response to those who might try to chant or stage other disruptions at his caucus site – but that’s not a unanimous position.

Iowa state Rep. Clel Baudler predicted that potential protestors at his caucus site in Adair County should expect a response that “will be swift and it will be sure.”

“Since I’m not a state trooper anymore, they probably won’t be handcuffed – but I have friends,” Baudler said. “If an officer asks for help, I will help, believe me.”

“We’re just not going to tolerate in rural Iowa what’s going on in the big metropolitan areas,” Baudler said. “A little thump therapy never hurt anybody.”

Handling Occupy protesters was part of this year’s state GOP precinct captain training. The protocol: Don’t give them any special treatment. Any Iowan who arrives should be offered the opportunity to register as a Republican on site and then to vote. Anyone else should be allowed in the allotted observation areas.

The state GOP has already moved the vote tabulation off site, but now there are worries of hackers infiltrating the reporting system. Instructions are being circulated directing caucus leaders not to touch protesters or yell at them, along with a number to call if things do get out of hand.

Doug Heye, who’s been advising the state GOP on operations ahead of Tuesday’s voting, wouldn’t comment on those measures or security contracts.

To read more, visit: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0112/71006.html#ixzz1iMCmUQgx

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