FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) –  Nicole Sandler, a liberal radio and internet commentator, was released from the Broward County Jail Wednesday afternoon after being locked up after speaking up at a town hall meeting in Fort Lauderdale.

Sandler, a single mother, said she went to the meeting in an attempt to question conservative Congressman Allen West about his support of proposed cuts to Medicare and Social Security benefits, and his support of tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.

“The future of the country is at stake,” Sandler, 51, told CBS4’s Gary Nelson as she emerged from the lockup after 17 hours in custody.  Two other hecklers at the Tuesday night meeting were escorted out by police, but only Sandler was arrested.

At the meeting, held at a church filled mostly with West supporters, Sandler stood up and attempted to shout a question at West.  He ignored her.  A police officer moved in and ordered her to leave.  Sandler told the officer, “Get your hands off me,” but appeared to comply with his order.  In a CBS4 News video she can be heard saying, “fine, let’s go,” as she left the hall with the police officer trailing behind.

The officer wrote that she refused repeated orders to leave the church where the meeting was being held.  The officer said Sandler was disruptive in the meeting, angering some around her and causing the threat of a physical altercation to erupt.  He said Sandler became “physically aggressive” with him, pushing him several times.  She denies that.  The video shows Sandler apparently trying to pull away from the officer, but she does not appear to push him.  She was arrested after she asked him for identifying information.

Sandler said she went to the meeting as a a “constituent of Congressman West, concerned about the way the Republican party is trying to take the country.”

“I want to know that when I’m 65, I’m not going to have to worry about paying exorbitant medical bills.  I want to know that my country is there for me,” she said Wednesday.  “But no.  It’s about taking care of the wealthy and let everyone else fend for themselves.”

Sandler said she would not have gone to the town hall meeting had she known the public would be prohibited from asking questions directly of the congressman.  Questions had to be submitted in writing, then read to West by an intermediary.

A spokesperson for the congressman, Angela Sachitano, said prohibiting direct questions was a “deliberate decision in order to maintain decorum.”

As for Sandler being taken to jail, the spokesperson said, “Police made the call to make the arrest, not Congressman West.”

Sandler said that as she sat in the back of a squad car waiting to be transported to jail, West posed for photographs with police officers.  She said she shouted for his help through the rear window of the police car that was rolled down slightly.

“He ignored me,” Sandler said.

Sandler said she was “mistreated and maced” while in the county jail after questioning why her release was taking so long.  Her bond, $25 for violating a non-criminal municipal ordinance, was posted by a friend in the early morning hours.  She was not released until at least nine hours later.

West has defended his proposals saying Medicare and Social Security cannot be sustained under the current system.  As for tax cuts for business and the rich, West says they will stimulate investment and jobs.

Sandler said the conservative assault on programs for the poor, children and the elderly threatens to take the nation back to a time “before Franklin Roosevelt.”

“I spent a night in jail…for the greater good,” Sandler said.  “I would do it again.”

Comments (33)
  1. ranger says:

    The Jackboots are at it in america they no doubt took her to the oven.

  2. Fernando says:

    typical liberal Democrat tactic. Cannot argue her position factually or logically so she resorts to emotional showmanship

    1. David Golden says:

      Yeah, just like all those typical baggers who yelled at the Town Hall meetings last time around.

      1. Not A Hater says:

        Yes, a talking point by Rush & Sean. Tea baggers can not think for themselves.

    2. Miriam says:

      She attempted to ask a non-scripted question to her US Congress representative. How is this emotional showmanship?

      I would be emotional if I was arrested and kept over night in jail as a single parent just for asking a question.

      Is this a Democracy or a Dictatorship?

  3. Andres says:

    Here is irony for you, a republican saying “typical liberal Democrat tactic. Cannot argue her position factually or logically so she resorts to emotional showmanship”

  4. Yvette says:

    Typical republican tool. He couldn’t come up with real answers to tough questions so he resorted to having her escorted out. I’ll bet that he couldn’t find answers to her questions in his list of republican talking points. Pathetic!

    1. Indhy says:

      I couldn’t agree more with your comment…

  5. Allen west is crazy! says:

    Allen west is a nutcase who promotes violence and intolerance. And taking away Medicare and trying to give elderly people inadequate vouchers is a disaster. We should all be there shouting about it.

  6. HankS_FtLauderdale says:

    Many liberals are comparing the town hall disruptions yesterday as legitimate discourse similar to the discourse two years ago by conservatives. This couldn’t be further from the truth. First, the conservative reaction to the power grab by Obama was a true grass root uprising that was not pre-planned and circulated through Facebook and Twitter. With the left, follow the tweets and you find core agitators and party officials. Further, think about how many tea party protesters were led away in handcuffs? ZERO. I listened to former Air America host Nicole Sheldon yesterday evening continue to shout and disrupt until she was physically removed from the venue and arrested. There’s a large difference between spontaneous reaction and carefully orchestrated malfeasance.

    Congressman Allen West had the foresight to not allow political operatives to sabotage his town hall meeting. Over 300 questions were written by attendees and independent reviewers selected the actual questions to be asked. None were screened, and Congressional staff will be asked to follow-up with people who didn’t have their questioned answered.

    Political operatives from the left failed in their mission. Pastor Bob Cay opened the town hall meeting with the following quote: “politicians worry about the next election, statesmen worry about the next generation”. Congressman Allen West is a statesman and a true American patriot. Go West!

    1. Katie Roth says:

      You must think Americans are really idiots, the “so called conservatives” were rude, obnoxious and totally out of control. There is nothing grassroots about the republican party. Just look at what the Koch puppet House full of republicans is doing to America. Buddy you may want to be a corporate slave but I DO NOT. Never ever compare yourself to truce Americans who are not crazy like Palin, Bachmann, Beck.nor is the Democratic party as corrupt as Republicans starting with Boehner who was handing out checks from the tobacco company on the floor of the house. As far as I have seen for the last 10 yrs is a party full of power grabbing, evil lunatics.

  7. tired says:

    If you have to research and rehearse yuour answers, you defeat the porpose of a town hall meeting. Further how was she charged with “trespassing” at a Town Hall, if she’s a registered voter she had a right to be there. Obstruction and creating a public disturbance, maybe, but not trespassing.
    Why was a Town Hall held at a church? To intimidate non-christians?

    1. Raymond Smith says:

      A church is private property that is why they had it there it was a GOP setup to do just exactly what they did. The time has come for all to realize that attempting to have any form of rational and reasonable discussion are useless and more importantly not wanted and now allowed by the Gop. They have effectively let it be know that they have declared that their position and opinion is the only one that will be tolerated in the supposed (Democratic state).Instead we are now experiencing is the Gop form of non-representative style of government. Enjoy for they are working hard to destroy Democracy and they will succeed if words and actions are not put to use very soon. We are watching the death throws of a Democracy as it is being taken over by Corporations and the Rich.

  8. thomgorman says:

    Taze her bro’, just taze her.

  9. Jacob Relner says:

    Sandler should not have been charged with trespassing. She was willfully leaving the building when an officer stopped her and arrested her.

    Allen West is a coward who is intimidated by smart women. His “neutering” comment and the branding of Sandler as a “heckler” (how is asking a question considered heckling?) is proof of this. Man up, Allen!

    1. danny says:

      Jacob- Allen was in vietnam and spent many tours in combat. Hes man enough in my book.
      Any man who served in vietnam is nothing but a real man

      1. Angie Lotto says:

        Yes Allen was in VietNam, he was also in Iraq, where he held a gun to a detainee’s head, and tortured the man. If you were not AWARE – he also was DISCHARGED from the military over this incident. His DD214 says “DISHONORABLE” under the discharged status. You should probably check out the people you are defending – or does it not matter to you that he BROKE RULES WHILE IN OUR UNIFORM???

      2. WindyCity says:

        Angie, while I haven’t seen Colonel West’s DD214, all the information I discovered indicates that your claim is not accurate. Dishonorable discharges can only be imposed after convition by a General Court Martial. Colonel West was fined under a non-judicial procedure; he later retired with full benefits.

    2. Paul Binion says:

      Allen Worst has an untreated case of PTSD. To teabag freaks he sounds normal. To us thinking folks that can put a sentence together we know he is an Uncle Tom. I would encourage Nicole to wear swimming goggles to protect her eyes if she is going to attend more clan hall meetings – mace can sting.

  10. mack k says:

    This is an outrage! Where were the police hit squads at the town halls of 2010 when Koch-supported tea party protesters did far worse?

  11. mack k says:

    @HankS_FtLauderdale You couldn’t be more wrong. The tea party protests of 2010 were organized by Dick Armey, Freedom Foundation, AFP, and other Koch Bros funded right wing groups, complete with a memo of talking points and ways to disrupt the town halls that was circulated in email & via the internet.

  12. tim3500 says:

    She’s a kool-aid drinker.

  13. robert martin says:

    waite until they come for you

    1. Fred Farley says:

      Yes, wait till the brown shirts or Gov. Scotts thugs come to your door mace you.
      The teabaggers are freaks.

  14. shawn says:

    The truth should never afraid of debate. West should have allowed for some live questions and Sandler should have exhibited some class. Both were trying to make their point without letting the other challenge their position.

  15. Rogers Rodriguez says:

    The tea bag freaks parrot anything Beck and Hannity say. Uncle Tom West has a terrible case of PTSD. He is a Repugnican. If you speak truth to a Repugnican at a clan town hall… get ready to be maced. The cop who arrested her is an idiot. He does not know that his retirement (mostley eating doughnuts for 30 years) will be gutted.

  16. Perry Winkle says:

    I agree with you Rogers. Nicole Sandler is a HERO!!! It takes real guts to attend a town hall if you are a Democrat or a person that can put a thought together.

  17. Roddy McMan says:

    This is a typical teabag post. Why do you have to parrot Hannity & Beck???

  18. mack k says:

    People like Sandler are the true patriots. Thanks for standing up for REAL Americans, Nicole!

  19. Tim Fromlosangeles says:

    Uh, Nicole supports the police? She’s concerned about the privatization of our commons and the police harassing her would only flag the Republicans who hate civil servants that the “public” police department is bad as they maced a woman, while, they bring in say Blackwater? She supports the police

  20. people vote your pocket book because your politicians are underwritten by the super wealthy and they don’t give a rats ass about you – its the haves vs. the have nots – it always has been and always will be – all the rest of it is political theater to divide and conquer – anyone making less than $250,000.00 a year and voting republican is a dupe, fooled by flag waving, sloganeering, or fear. Capitalism does not = Democracy.

    1. Phil Landers says:

      Exactly what I was gonna say. Well done! Plus people can protest all they want and it will do nothing. There is no Democrat or Republican in this country. Only large banks and corporations that pull the strings of the puppet heads. The little guy has no say. Obama is straight out of the Rockefeller camp as was Bush IMO.

      1. Surya says:

        nolskeolfreestywe on April 23, 2009 perfect business whether you have a busy schedule or you have spare time only takes about an hour or two to make cash. projectpayday rocks

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