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6 hecklers disrupt town hall meeting with Chris Christie



By ANGELA DELLI SANTI

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) - Six people who tried to disrupt a town hall meeting hosted by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were ejected from the building in what became the governor's most raucous community gathering in the weeks since his administration became ensnared in a political payback scandal.

Police removed one protester, Rowan University student Michael Brein, after he began shouting about supposed inequities in the distribution of Superstorm Sandy aid.

Christie tried ignoring Brein by turning his back on him. When that didn't work, the Republican governor reeled around, telling Brein to sit down or be thrown out.

Local police escorted Brein from the building, and five others were shown the door after yelling about the political retribution scandal and other matters. The disruption appeared to have been loosely coordinated by citizens' groups that have opposed Christie's housing and tax policies.

The hecklers were not arrested and no charges would be filed, state police said.

Outside, the somewhat rumpled, unshaven 19-year-old Brein said he expected Christie wouldn't call on him because of how he looks. He spouted a litany of anti-Christie complaints, including that the town halls are staged affairs in Republican-controlled areas that are inaccessible to most people because they are held during work hours.

At the event, Christie told the crowd that the hecklers wanted attention, pointing to the 13 television cameras and score of reporters covering the event.

The intended focus of the town hall, state spending, was largely overshadowed. The governor did announce that average property tax bills, already the nation's highest, rose a relatively modest 1.7 percent last year, which he said is evidence that his policies are working.

Christie has returned to his signature town halls in recent weeks as he tries to shake the scandal and investigations that are dogging his administration and raising questions about his chances in a potential 2016 presidential race. The venues have been carefully scouted by the administration, and the events have mostly occurred without incident, until Thursday's, his most disruptive yet.

Re-elected last fall, Christie became known during his first term as liable to pick a fight during town halls. He famously called a Navy SEAL an idiot during a shouting match and tangled with a public school teacher who was inspired by the event to run for Congress. His staff circulated many of these moments in YouTube videos.

Security appeared to be ramped up for Thursday's town hall as well. Attendees were screened with wands, and the auditorium was ringed with local and state police, both in uniform and plainclothes.

Such security is not extraordinary with town hall crowds usually exceeding 500 people, said Capt. Stephen Jones of the New Jersey State Police.

Despite the disruptions, the audience remained mostly supportive; some booed the disrupters.

Skip Brockner of Collingswood, a retired truck driver who Christie called on to ask the final question, began by apologizing for the demonstrators.

"They could have done it more politely," he said.

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DALE March 13 2014 at 3:27 PM

Christie should resign , since when was the chief excutive not responsible for his staff's actions . The buck stops at his desk .

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4 replies
msjr703 March 13 2014 at 3:01 PM

I take it from some of the comments below that members of the My way or the Highway Bully brigade are at it again. You can tell which ones these are because their comments are mean spirited and degrogatory and of course offer no logical or commen sense solutions. As you read some of the comments it just goes to prove that it is not illegal or unconstitutional to be stupid or ignorant in this country.

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Vince Coyle March 14 2014 at 12:28 AM

How do you do it more politely to a known bully?

Flag Reply +8 rate up
ebagroup March 13 2014 at 3:04 PM

I get the impression that many of the preceeding comments are from those who sit on there butts and yell at the world. Get a real job!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
johnnysul64 March 14 2014 at 8:41 AM

Paulie "Walnuts" Geutieri for Governor!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
mistergg69 March 14 2014 at 8:38 AM

Governor Christie is owned by NJ car dealerships...banned the sale of Tesla electric cars in NJ.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
mphseason March 13 2014 at 3:10 PM

Hello AOL...will you please remove these people that are selling items, and when one tries to flag it as abusive, nothing gets done. Either you remove them, or I'll just stay on facebook and Yahoo.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
cedatty March 13 2014 at 5:14 PM

Abuse of freedom of speech by these clowns.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
antfern March 14 2014 at 12:57 AM

"Average property tax bills, already the nation's highest, rose a relatively modest 1.7 percent last year, which he said is evidence that his policies are working. How can you trust that this is true when you know that his administration close bridges for some insane reason.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
jymwrite March 14 2014 at 1:01 AM

Nicely slanted article. "Six people who tried to disrupt a town hall meeting..." What about trying to get their Governor to answer their questions about the apparent inequities under his administration?

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1 reply
MaryTheresa jymwrite March 14 2014 at 1:16 AM

It was billed as a 'town meeting'.

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