Tea Party Senate Debate Featuring Shelby Opponents Halted

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A debate featuring Alabama candidates for U.S. Senate was shut down Thursday evening and attendees suddenly asked to leave. The event was to showcase Republican opponents to incumbent Senator Richard Shelby.

Dozens were kicked out of Hoover Tactical Firearms and ushered out into the parking lot, where three police cars awaited. Gene Smith, owner of the 52,000-square-foot gun store and shooting range told an angry crowd he supports Shelby and refused to allow the event with Shelby not there to defend himself. Shelby was reportedly invited but couldn’t attend. Long-time Tea Party member Cliff Fleming of Hoover says he was stunned.

“This sounds like something you would see in maybe Russia with Putin or Nazi Germany,” he says.

The Rainy Day Patriots, a tea party group based in Birmingham, organized the event. The group usually has its monthly meetings at Hoover Tactical Firearms, and officials say they haven’t had trouble before. Shelby, a Republican, has held his Senate seat since 1986. He faces four challengers in the March 1st primary.

 

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