UPDATE: Adam at StlActivistHub has pictures from Javonne Spitz of a button that that shows Obama smoking with the word HOPE over it. That backs up the portion of McCowan's story of why he went up to Gladney. I'm going to ask Brown why he didn't tell me that upfront, as it was clear from our emails that the buttons that were sold had the potential to corroborate or disprove McCowan's story. It doesn't prove McCowan was the victim, but I am wondering why Brown tried to mislead me.
Second Update: This story is not complete. I'm assembling what I know, and will present a full report later today. -12:23 p.m. Sunday, August 16th
Begin Original Post:
I got a press release from David Brown, the attorney (and friend) for Kenneth Gladney, claiming the story Elston McCowan is now telling has been disproven.
Brown cites the original statement by McCowan in the Post Dispatch,
"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."
I heard McCowan state on KMOX with Mark Reardon on Thursday that he walked up to Gladney and asked him about what was on the board, because he saw a button with Obama in blackface, and another with him smoking weed. As Brown pointed out, that certainly is different than McCowan walking to his car, and then Gladney assaulting him out of nowhere. McCowan repeats this story to Don Fitz of the International Journal of Socialist Renewal.
Video of the aftermath of the event has been dissected by left-wing bloggers, who claim that Gladney can be seen trying to kick McCowan, but the video only shows a second SEIU man (also arrested) throwing Gladney roughly to the ground, and the event takes place almost 30 feet away from the board with the buttons and flags. This shows the video is the aftermath, as both men say it started at the board.
It would also seem that there is an easy way to tell who is lying.
I emailed Brown back at the press release address. I have not met David and have never spoken to him. I asked him if he had the buttons, and if any of them had Obama in blackface or smoking weed. Brown sent me six designs you see posted on this blogpost to the left, and writes,
"Attached please find the buttons that were sold that day by Kenneth."
That's a pretty clear declaration.
We now have a way to know if someone is lying. The buttons were manufactured or purchased by Brown (that's how he knows Kenneth, who was selling them for Brown). He sent me these six designs. If there are two more designs on the board, or if someone has one of the buttons sold by Kenneth, or if there are pictures of the buttons, then we know that Brown is lying.
But if these are the only six buttons that Kenneth sold - if there was never any merchandise showing Obama smoking weed or in blackface - then we know that McCowan is lying, and created a story to cover his role in this. It's a pretty clear case at that point. McCowan has made public statements, and so has Gladney. These contradict each other.
All we need to do is find those mysterious Obama buttons, or not, and we'll know the truth. If you have pictures or video that show the board Kenneth was using, or if you have a picture of a button from that night, please forward them confidentially to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like many of the other people involved in the Tea Party, I have been concerned about the story. I know one person in the video (a witness), and have video footage of the arrest of Javonne Spitz and Brian Matthews. The story put out by SEIU keeps lumping Jake Wagman of the Post Dispatch and Javonne and Brian in with the two SEIU staff (Perry Mullins and Elston McCowan), and that's not an accurate description of what happened - it's designed to make the officers look bad, and I'll be posting that video after I speak with a lawyer about whether I can post it. We're still waiting to hear the identity of the sixth person arrested, a woman who hit a girl filming part of the aftermath (the woman was arrested immediately by a police officer that saw the assault according to the video). The story is simply too outrageous, and there's a fear that it would be used to discredit the Tea Party (which was the point of all the media coverage). But it looks like we finally will get an answer.
Someone is lying. Now we find out who.
In a related comment concerning McCowan's credibility - On Thursday Mark Reardon brought up the fire in McCowan's van that McCowan blamed on the Slay campaign. During the interview, McCowan claims he only said, "I wouldn't put it past him." That was reported in the Post Dispatch. In fact, in a statement to KMOX, McCowan said,