Two words rarely heard in politics these days but spoken Friday by several Bettendorf residents on opposite sides of the aisle. In a parking lot, they aired grievances about a parade, a social media post, water balloons, and perhaps, fallible memories and miscommunications.
At the July 4 Bettendorf parade, Scott County Democrats say spectators harassed their float and people on it with anti-Democrat, anti-Biden obscenities and some choice water-balloon tosses.
The county party sent out an email blast and posted online casting what happened as “radicalized right extremists … intimidating and bullying our members,” and included photos of the alleged perpetrators on social media.
But those pictured say it wasn’t them shouting obscenities.
Some parents in the photos responded, saying they asked around to others pictured and hadn’t heard any kind of anti-Democrat profanity or noticed targeted water balloons. They asked to meet with the Democrats and for the photos to be removed.
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An online story in the Quad-City Times chronicled the hubbub earlier this week. The Scott County Democrats’ float driver and the parents connected and agreed to meet on Friday. The groups shared their recollections and ended with the party chair taking down the photos.
Dave Thede, the float driver, said the yelling and profanity about Democrats began in front of the Bettendorf bar Bulldog Arms, on State Street. He said a few young people appearing in their teens or early 20s were the most aggressive — one person dumping water in the Democrats’ float and another throwing a water balloon hard, hitting a volunteer in the head. In another instance, he said what looked to be a parent told a child to throw a balloon “at the f**ing Democrats.”
He said this is the second year they’ve had problems with a small group of people at the Bettendorf parade.
But the group of parents that met with Thede said they were seated about a half-block away, in front of Trattoria Tiramisu, with water guns and kids younger than teenagers.
“I know every one of them by name and I can tell you with every ounce of my being that not one of them have said something so hurtful,” Kimberly Munn, one of the parents pictured, said.
She said her kids were being called extremists and she was in jeopardy of losing business.
“Those pictures getting posted, I’m getting phone calls and emails from my clients demanding a formal apology because my van is in the background,” Munn said.
Scott Gullickson, another parent in the picture, said, “If we hit you with the water balloon, then our fun got a little too fun for our side…I would apologize for at least my family. That shouldn’t have happened, she shouldn’t have gotten hit in the head.”