At a Tampa forum, Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor struggled to make herself heard and eventually cut her appearance short as dozens of people shouted "Tyranny! Tyranny! Tyranny!" reports the St. Petersburg Times. Amid the crowd of about 1,500, the newspaper reported, other chants rang out like, "Tell the truth! Tell the truth!" "Read the bill!" "Forty-million illegals! Forty million illegals!"
With the auditorium at the Tampa Children's Board of Hillsborough County quickly reaching full capacity, Tampa Police started turning people away. Subsequently, violence broke out outside, reports local CBS affiliate WTSP, with at least one person being treated for minor injuries. A photojournalist reported had his glasses and camera equipment broken.
The event was sponsored by sponsored by state Rep. Betty Reed and the Service Employees International Union, but many protesters said they were prompted to attend by the Tampa 912 activist group promoted by conservative television personality Glenn Beck, the St. Petersburg Times reported. Other protesters reported receiving e-mails with talking points to speak out against health care reform from the Hillsborough Republican Party.
"The insurance industry and … Republican activists are manufacturing a lot of these phony protests,'' Castor said, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
Meanwhile, six people were arrested Thursday night in St. Louis, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, after health care reform protests broke out at what was intended to be a forum on aging with Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan. Three people were reportedly arrested for suspicion of committing peace disturbances, two for suspicion of assault and one for resisting arrest.
An unanticipated crowd of several hundred people turned out to the Bernard Middle School gym in south St. Louis County, the Post-Dispatch reported, due in part to the local Tea Party Coalition, which urged members to attend the forum and subsequently spurred Democrats to boost their attendance as well.
One conservative African-American activist, who was taken to the emergency room of a local hospital with injuries, told the newspaper that another black man used a racial slur against him and then physically attacked him.
"It just seems there's no freedom of speech without being attacked," he reportedly said.
One liberal attendee who was arrested told the Post-Dispatch his 51-year-old female friend was sprayed with mace by police officers after attempting to takepictures of the scene.
And here are some amatuer YouTube videos taken from the scene in Tampa: