Elston McCowan, a Baptist minister and SEIU union official who ran for mayor of St. Louis in 2009 on the Green Party line, was attacked at an 8/6 town hall forum on healthcare reform outside St. Louis in Mehlville, MO. As reported by Patrick M. O’Connell of the St. Louis Dispatch, both tea party protesters and SEIU counter-protesters blame each other for instigating the violence.
Among the injured was Kenneth Gladney, 38, of St. Louis. He said he was with the Tea Party, handing out yellow flags with “Don’t tread on me” printed on them, when he was assaulted. He said he sought hospital treatment for injuries to his knee, back, elbow, shoulder and face.
“I was attacked for something I believe in,” he said.
But Elston McCowan, an SEIU staffer, said Gladney was actually an instigator. McCowan accused Gladney of attacking him as he walked to his car. McCowan said he suffered a dislocated shoulder.
“Out of nowhere, the guy just assaults me,” said McCowan, 47, of St. Louis.
This Youtube video of the incident gives a better idea of what happened.
The video begins with McCowan down on the pavement, Gladney standing over him, until Gladney is pulled down by another man in an SEIU shirt. McCowan stands up and walks towards the camera, holding an apparently dislocated shoulder (0:22-0:40). A tea partier yells “You attacked that guy for nothing” at the man in SEIU shirt, who replies that “He hit Elston”.
Gladney is pictured in a wheelchair wearing a knee cast on the conservative RedState.com, where the author claims that McCowan is a “thug” and “one of the men who did this to Kenneth Gladney. Yet Gladney can be seen normally walking after and waving at a police car at 1:30-1:45 in the video. Nevertheless, right-wing bloggers are propagating the video as supposed evidence that Reverend McCowan, who keeps his hands to himself for the duration of the video, is a “union thug”.
This is not the first time an assault on Elston McCowan has made the news: on March 29th, 2009, after a debate with St. Louis incumbent mayor Francis Slay and challenger Maida Coleman, McCowan’s church van was firebombed outside his house.