“I’m handicapped! I need a doctor!” “Sir, this is the chairman!” The Louisiana State Republican Convention descended into chaos Saturday morning, with several delegates being arrested and the convention chairman being thrown to the ground by police. Sources report that state party officials panicked when it became clear that Ron Paul delegates commanded a decisive majority of the delegates on the floor – at least 111 of 180 (62%).For context
The convention began peacefully with a prayer and invocation. Roger Villere, Chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party, then attempted to recognize the former Chair of the Convention’s Rules Committee who had been ousted from his position last night. When Alex Helwig, the newly elected Rules Committee chair, rose to address the delegation, Mr. Villere ordered him removed from the floor. Video footage shows Shreveport police dragging Mr. Helwig out of the room despite his protests that he was a duly elected delegate.
At this point, a motion was made to elect a new convention chairman. Henry Herford, Jr., was elected by an overwhelming majority. Nevertheless, Mr. Villere – who had appointed himself the convention chairman – refused to relinquish control of the gathering. As the delegates began turning their chairs around, Mr. Herford, the newly elected chairman, rose to call the convention to order. Sources report that, in an act of desperation, Mr. Villere and state party officials then ordered police to attack Mr. Herford.
Video footage shows an older gentleman in a blue shirt being violently dragged away by police and then shoved to the ground. When Mr. Herford protests that he is handicapped and would like to press charges for assault against the police officers, a Shreveport police officer is seen smirking in response. Sources report that Mr. Herford, 57, has a prosthetic hip that was dislocated during the assault.
Many observers expressed shock that the establishment would resort to such violent tactics against fellow Republicans. Saturday morning’s incidents come on the heels of increasing panic among state party leaders in the aftermath of Ron Paul’s decisive victory in the Louisiana caucuses in April.
, Paul won 6% of the vote in the March 24 LA primary, which awards 20 of the state's RNC delegates.
The "decisive victory" was in taking 111 out of 150 of the state caucus delegates during district caucuses, which delegates go on to select the state's 26 remaining RNC delegates at the state convention (where the above transpired).
After Convention Chairman Henry Herford’s arrest, the delegates proceeded to elect a new chair and continued with the business of the convention. They reportedly elected a slate of 27 Ron Paul supporters to fill 12 of the 18 district delegate slots and 15 of 20 at-large delegate slots, before certifying the results with the RNC.
Meanwhile, state party leaders held their own convention in one corner of the room with about 30 delegates in attendance. Local media is reporting that the minority convention also elected a slate of delegates, although it is unlikely that the legitimacy of their slate will be recognized by the RNC.