Hoyer: Tea Party Town Halls were ‘Much More Confrontational’ than Occupy Protests

By Matt Cover | October 11, 2011 | 2:17 PM EDT

FILE: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Md., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(CNSNews.com) – House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that Tea Party protests at town hall meetings in 2010 were “much more confrontational” than the left-wing Occupy protests now underway in cities around the country.

“I don’t know whether [House Majority Leader] Mr. Cantor (R-Va.) watched any of the town meetings that we had in August of 2009, [but] they were much more confrontational in many respects than these demonstrations are,” Hoyer told reporters at his weekly pen-and-pad news conference Tuesday.

The second-ranking House Democrat was referring to the Tea Party-led protests at town hall meetings in 2009 where many Americans protested and spoke out against the very unpopular Obamacare health-reform law – which was being debated in Congress at the time.

Democrats – primarily in the House – used the summer break period to go home to their districts and attempt to convince the public to support Obamacare. Instead, most were met by large groups of angry protesters

Hoyer, who had been asked his opinion of the left-wing Occupy protests in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities, said that they were merely democracy in action, and that the protesters were highlighting one of the “good aspects of democracy.”

“This is a democracy,” Hoyer said, “and one of the good aspects of democracy is that people get the opportunity to express their concerns and hope that actions will be taken to address those grievances.”

Hoyer's reference to Cantor involves comments Cantor made Oct. 7 about the Occupy D.C. protests in Washington. Cantor said that he was “increasingly concerned” about the leftist protesters gathering in cities across the country.

“I, for one, am increasingly concerned about the growing mobs occupying Wall Street and the other cities across the country,” Cantor said.

Hoyer’s comments echoed those of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) who also attacked Cantor for calling the protesters “mobs,” saying that Cantor didn’t respond when the Tea Party was demonstrating.

“I didn't hear him say anything when the Tea Party was out demonstrating, actually spitting on members of Congress right here in the Capitol and he and his colleagues were putting signs in the windows encouraging them,” Pelosi said Oct. 9.

The Occupy protests, which began in New York City on Wall Street, have moved to several cities across the country. They consist of a variety of liberal activist groups protesting against issues ranging from Wall Street bailouts, to the war in Afghanistan, to the existence of large corporations.

Typically, the protesters squat – or occupy – an area, camping out indefinitely and staging marches and various other events in conjunction with their encampments.

Occupy protests in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. have reportedly led to more than 700 arrests, with the most recent being six protesters arrested for storming the Hart Senate Office building in Washington on Tuesday.