Facing South

Swastika spray-painted at office of black Ga. congressman

david_scott_obama.jpgOne day after telling a reporter that he saw worrisome racial undertones in the health care reform debate, U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) discovered someone had painted a swastika at his office in the Atlanta suburb of Smyrna.

A black symbol of the Nazis covered the sign for Scott's office, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The office was also hit with other graffiti, including one that used a racial slur and another that said, "Death to all Marxists! Foreign and domestic!"

Smyrna police, Capitol police, the FBI and Secret Service are investigating. The culprit behind the swastika could face federal hate crime charges.

The incident followed what's been described as a "heated exchange" between Scott and Dr. Brian Hill at a town hall meeting on health care reform that followed repeated interruptions and shouting. Organizations representing corporate interests with a stake in the reform debate have been encouraging concerned citizens to attend the town hall meetings and disrupt them.

Scott said he received disturbing mail and faxes from out-of-state numbers following news reports of the town hall exchange. Here's how he described one missive to TV station 11Alive:

Scott held up a sheet of paper to Watson that had a picture of President Obama on it, his face made to look like the joker in Batman, a swastika on his forehead. Then he read what it said.

"They address it to n----- David Scott, 'You were, you are, and you shall forever be, a n-----'," Scott said, reading from the letter. "I got this in the mail today. Somewhere underneath this, bubbling up, is the ugly vicissitudes of racism. We should be proud we have an African American president and celebrating him willing to take on the difficult issue of healthcare, an issue that reflects 19 percent of our economy. Here we are in Congress trying to grapple with an almost impossible task -- almost two improbables together, bring the cost of healthcare down while expanding the coverage of it. That is a difficult assignment and it should not be relegated to these mobs of people who will come and hijack a meeting, and you expect me not to stand up to that and not to show that we're not intimidated?"

Scott told the AJC that he didn't believe the vandalism was done by anyone in his district.

Other lawmakers have reportedly received death threats over their position on health care reform. Congressman Brad Miller of North Carolina was threatened after he declined to hold a town hall on the topic because of the threat of disruptions. Miller, a Democrat, supports the president's reform plan.

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