Tea Party activists want arrests

<b>CORRECTION:</b> This story in Thursday’s Las Vegas Review-Journal misquoted Zachary Petkanas, spokesman for the re-election campaign of Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. In response to reports of eggs thrown during a confrontation between Reid supporters and Tea Party activists Saturday in Searchlight, Petkanas said: “It wasn’t anyone from our campaign. We certainly don’t condone that kind of behavior.”

Riders on the Tea Party Express want Nevada authorities to identify and charge demonstrators who threw eggs at a Tea Party bus during a rally Saturday in Searchlight.

The eggs came from the direction of a demonstration organized by the state Democratic Party to show support for Sen. Harry Reid, whose residence in Searchlight was the reason Tea Party organizers chose to gather in the small town 60 miles south of Las Vegas.

"I call it violence, when you are throwing eggs and stuff," Tea Party bus driver Jerry Ragle said.

The eggs hit the Tea Party bus during a verbal confrontation between pro-Reid demonstrators and conservative online journalist and muckraker Andrew Breitbart, who was accompanied by video cameras.

Ragle said that in addition to an initial statement at the scene, he reported the incident by phone to police on Wednesday.

Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Jay Rivera said that throwing eggs at a vehicle is a misdemeanor and that once a report is filed, police will investigate.

Breitbart argues that the egg incident shows reports suggesting Tea Party supporters are prone to violent acts are wrong and that it is anti-Tea Party forces who are more likely to cause problems.

"The violence and intimidation came from the left, the peaceful protesting came from the tea partyers," Breitbart said.

Breitbart was also angry at a third man in one of the videos, wearing a Reid T-shirt, who can be heard telling a police officer that Breitbart threw the eggs.

In another video taken after the incident, Breitbart is shown telling an officer that he did not throw eggs and that he has video to document his statement.

Phoebe Sweet, a spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party, said the egg throwers were not part of the group that arrived on two buses she helped coordinate.

Sweet can be seen in the videos typing on a smart phone when the eggs flew. She said she did not see the thrower but decided to break up the demonstration soon after.

"As soon as there was an incident, we shut everything down," Sweet said.

Zachary Petkanas, a spokesman for Reid's campaign, said, "It wasn't anyone from our campaign" who threw the eggs, and "we certainly don't condone it."

The incident outside the rally in Searchlight, which featured Sarah Palin, GOP vice presidential candidate in 2008, and attracted an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people, comes as Tea Party advocates are defending themselves against allegations of boorish behavior.

Breitbart has offered a $100,000 reward to anyone who can prove allegations a Tea Party demonstrator hurled a racial epithet at a black member of Congress during a recent protest in Washington, D.C.

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861.