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Hate speech comes to Bainbridge Island
Two supporters of Lynden LaRouche brought his extremist claims and anti-Obama rants to downtown Winslow late this week, but found few people willing to give them much attention.
The supporters of LaRouche, a convicted felon and perennial fringe candidate for president, came to Bainbridge on the heels of a visit to Whidbey Island, which resulted in multiple calls to police from residents who were enraged by the group's appearance in Freeland.
Saturday on Bainbridge Island, the claims remained the same from LaRouche followers: that the United States is on the verge of nuclear war and that President Obama should be impeached because of the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens last month in Libya.
The two LaRouche supporters declined to talk to a reporter.
The pair sat at a table decorated with posters showing the president with a Hitler-style mustache and "Impeach Obama" slogans. They mostly ignored comments made by people walking or driving by; one kept earphones in his ears for much of Saturday afternoon, while his partner devoted his attention to talking on his cell phone before walking off.
When a few people did stop to talk, the pair seemed more interested in confrontation rather than conversation.
Their contacts with people ended with the pair accusing passers-by of bias or ignorance.
Islanders approached by a reporter after they talked to the pair did not want to be identified, but said they found the posters "absolutely disgusting" and "incredibly offensive."
Some simply thought the LaRouche display was a joke, including a tall teenager who stopped to ask the pair if they were representing the satirical newspaper, the Onion, or television comedy shows that are based on news events.
"Are you guys from the Onion? The Colbert Report? The Daily Show?" the teenager asked.
"No? Oh. This is for real? Oooohhhh," he said, quickly turning away.
Many people walking by the LaRouche stand did not bother to stop, or even glance, at the pair and their propaganda. Their setup was small — a small folding table lined with anti-Obama posters, a large umbrella and two sandwich boards on Winslow Way that said "Pull Over Dump Obama" — but strategically placed, next to the crosswalk by downtown Winslow's grocery store. Handouts detailing their claims of a cover-up over the Benghazi attack and a recent webcast by LaRouche were being kept dry in protective plastic sleeves.
The LaRouche followers did find a few supporters; an elderly man stopped to share a handshake and a thumbs up, and a smiling twentysomething man driving past yelled, "Keep up the good work!"
The twentysomething driver was followed by another young man in a red pickup who pulled out of the adjacent grocery store parking lot. He was not smiling.
"Don't listen to them, they are full of [expletive]! It's a bunch of lies!" he yelled.
"It's a bunch of bull!" he yelled again as he drove away.
Others who stopped to talk to the LaRouche followers quickly left unimpressed.
"I tried to ask why we should impeach Obama," said one woman who identified herself as Christine, and declined to give her last name.
"And they said, well, it's all about the impending World War III, and Russia, and Syria and Turkey getting involved."
"I kept saying, 'What's this have to do with Obama?'"
"He didn't want to answer," she added, and said the LaRouche supporter then started to complain of a cover-up of the terrorist attack in Libya.
He then accused the woman of bias as she walked away.