The three of us, as leaders of different organizations, don't normally write you together, but something has happened that affects all of us as progressives and all women in this country.
Monday night outside a senatorial debate in Kentucky, 23-year-old Lauren Valle was trying to get a picture with Rand Paul and her satirical sign when she was thrown to the ground by a group of men and, while she was pinned to the ground, one of the men intentionally stomped on her head. Video caught the whole thing. Lauren was left with a concussion.1
While what happened to Lauren has happened to too many political protesters recently, what came next is an affront — and feels chillingly familiar — to us, as women. The Paul campaign worker who stomped on Lauren's head demanded she apologize, saying "she instigated it!"2
The Tea Party has shown it wants to return us to a time when overt racism is considered acceptable civil discourse. And if women get hurt, well they must have done something to deserve it. This stops here and now.
By uploading your picture, you can show that your voice will not be silenced even in the face of intimidating and thuggish behavior. We'll put all the photos in one public place as a statement of solidarity with Lauren and a promise to keep speaking out.
Think about a woman you love — a daughter, a friend, your mother — and picture her being attacked in this way. Picture yourself being attacked. If we don't stop this now, who will?
The man who attacked Lauren was Rand Paul's county campaign chair at the time.3 But Paul's initial reaction to the videotaped assault was to say, "There was a crowd control problem."4
Then finally when pressed to address the violence he issued a statement that read: "Whatever the perceived provocation, any level of aggression or violence is deplorable, and will not be tolerated by our campaign."5
Rand Paul has thus far refused to apologize directly to the victim or condemn his supporters who are literally blaming her and smearing her character in an attempt to distract attention from the most salient fact — a group of men had Valle pinned down and one of the men intentionally stomped on her head.
Violence has been far too prevalent this entire election season, with both men and women getting roughed up by right-wing thugs. But when three men gang up on one woman and then one claims she asked for it, well, that's a whole other class of hatred that we have to call out.
As women, writing the e-mail, we won't stand for it. And we know many men reading this agree. We all have the right to protest in public places. And we all have not only the right but the duty to go squarely after those who dare to say we deserve it when cowardly thugs attack us for standing up for what we believe. And mostly, we all across this country need to say this is outrageous, and we're not going to let them get away with this.
— Becky Bond, Ilyse Hogue, Stephanie Taylor, and the entire teams of CREDO, MoveOn.org, and Progressive Change Campaign Committee
1. "Rand Paul Supporter Stomps on MoveOn Member's Head," The Huffington Post, October 25, 2010 http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=6406&id=12100-729059-Km0JTxx&t=10
2. "Kentucky Stomper Wants An Apology From Woman He Assaulted" Talking Points Memo, October 26, 2010 http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=6407&id=12100-729059-Km0JTxx&t=11
3. "Rand Paul coordinator Tim Profitt admits to stepping on woman from MoveOn.org before Kentucky debate," Los Angeles Times, October 26, 2010 http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=6408&id=12100-729059-Km0JTxx&t=12
4. "Rand Paul Calls Stomping Outside Debate A 'Crowd Control Issue'," Politics Daily, October 26, 2010 http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=6409&id=12100-729059-Km0JTxx&t=13
5. "Rand Paul supporter booted from campaign after altercation with woman," The Courier-Journal, October 26, 2010 http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=6410&id=12100-729059-Km0JTxx&t=14