American Politics in Action – Was Geoff Young Manhandled in a “Protective Reaction” Physical Assault? You Be the Judge!
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Photo: Luke Sharrett

American Politics in Action – Was Geoff Young Manhandled in a “Protective Reaction” Physical Assault? You Be the Judge!


Kentucky and American politics have never been for those who cannot stand the sight of blood. There was a time even walking canes had to be banned in the US Congress. They were used by elected representatives to beat one another over the head. 

However, a meeting of the New Kentucky Project, which became the venue for a physical incident, is not even a political party. It is a liberal political group that was founded early in 2017 by Democrats reacting to the surprising election of Donald Trump as the President in November, 2016. The September 8th event was billed as a day-long conference designed to educate liberal Kentuckians about current political issues in the state.

Report of an Incident in Georgetown, Kentucky on Saturday, September 8, 2018

Today I am sharing an experience of Geoffrey M. Young, a candidate for Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 2019 – not so much because I find his story all that compelling for an international audience; it may be a story better suited for local and regional news.  But it serves to illustrate how some former members of the military, one woman running for the U.S. House of Representatives, is trying to use her service record for political purposes, as was so well explained in a recent NYTs article, In Kentucky House Race, a Battle of Ideology vs. Résumé

In the interest of full disclosure, Geoffrey M. Young was one of the five Democrats who lost the primary election to Lt. Colonel Amy McGrath, who retired from the Marines in July, 2017. He was the only Democrat who openly called her a “war criminal” on the campaign trail because “she knowingly fought in an illegal war of aggression in Iraq,” according to Mr. Young.

Geoffrey M. Young is NOT your typical politician; he is a citizen of the Commonwealth of Kentucky who lives in Lexington, home to the same University where I had attended the ROTC program as part of my military and university experience. No other Democrat criticized Lt. Colonel McGrath's record and positions on foreign policy as harshly as Mr. Young, so she was probably very angry at him for continuing to denigrate her even after he lost the primary election in May, 2018.

By the way, I work with Veterans Today, a military-veterans affairs journal, and serve as its Bureau Chief for in Georgia, the country — not the state.

We are attracted to such stories, whereby politicians try to use their military backgrounds for the wrong reasons, case in point, John McCain — who so effectively used his military service to conceal his true colors.

I will let Geoffrey highlight his story and you may judge for yourself:

“I was in Georgetown, Kentucky on Saturday, September 8, 2018 at the second annual Ideas Conference of the New Kentucky Project (NKP).”


Lt. Colonel Amy McGrath (retired), who has been accused of using her military background and out-of-state money, was billed as the keynote speaker.

 The NKP project’s website claims that it is open to diversity and sharing of varied opinions:

The New Kentucky Project seeks to move Kentucky forward and modernize our state through a variety of different policy initiatives. However we do acknowledge that there will be differences of opinion amongst some Kentuckians on issues and we seek to embrace those differences, rather than rigidly accept the two-party dichotomy so often required in today's politics. We believe that where intelligent, well-meaning people disagree that consensus can be built through discussion and education.

The NKP's publicity for the Conference advertised:

“We are thrilled to have Ret. Lieutenant Colonel and Candidate for Kentucky's 6th Congressional District Amy McGrath to speak at Ideas Conference this Saturday.”

Now Geoffrey will continue:

This year's conference was scheduled to start at 9:30 am, and I arrived at about 9:15 and checked in.  At 9:20, one of the NKP staffers, Jared Smith, whom I didn't know, approached me near the registration table.  All of the dialogues from this incident are approximate because I didn't have a recording device with me that day.

Smith: Hello, Mr. Young.  You're a member of the New Kentucky Project, so you're welcome to attend the conference today.

Young: Thanks, I appreciate it. (I started walking away from him toward the main meeting room.  He grabbed my arm because he had more to say.)

Smith: Wait a minute. I'm not going to have any disturbances here today.

Young: I guess you're not. (turning away from him again)

Smith: I mean, we don't want to have any disturbances when Amy speaks.

Young: I guess we don't.  (Seeing that he had nothing more to say, I continued toward the conference room.)

Then NKP staffer Erik Jarboe and I said hi to each other.  Going into the large conference room, I chatted with a couple of people I knew and mentioned that I'm running for Governor in 2019 with Josh French from Elizabethtown as my running mate for Lt. Governor.

At 9:40 am, Adam Edelen, one of the co-founders of the NKP, gave an overview.

I was sitting at a table chatting with a friend.  Presently a man and a woman came over and joined us. The man introduced himself as Mike Shugart, said he was a retired police officer from Louisville, and said he had come to the conference that day “to hear Amy McGrath.”  Adam Edelen came by, I mentioned that I was going to run for Governor in 2019, and he said coldly, “We'll talk about that later.”  Then he moved on to the next table.

At 9:50, Jason Bailey, an economist, talked about a better strategy for economic development in Kentucky.  I took about half a page of notes on his presentation.

After his presentation was over, there was a break and I went to the bathroom, leaving my backpack behind on the floor under my chair.  It was mostly zipped closed, but not completely.  Inside was a poster-type sign I had made months ago. It was folded up twice to fit in my backpack. It said on one side, “Stop Corruption in the Democratic Party,” and on the other side it said, “Amy McGrath is a War Criminal.”  At several Democratic Party events during the previous eight to ten months, I had showed that sign, either outside the event on a public sidewalk or inside the meeting room.  When I showed it indoors, I would stand completely silently holding the sign for anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more while the meeting went on.  I would never shout or speak unless spoken to in a hostile manner by another Democrat, at which time I would reply in a normal speaking voice.  I was never disruptive, not even slightly.  A number of Democrats were familiar with my pattern of standing silently in the back of rooms or on street corners with my sign.  After I got back, I chatted with Mike Shugart some more in a normal manner. 

I noticed when I got back that my and Mr. Shugart's female companion had left the table.  The next speaker on the agenda was Amy McGrath, and her keynote address started at about 10:00. 

After listening to her standard stump speech for a few minutes, I took my sign out of my backpack, stood up, and took about 2 steps toward the side of the room – not toward McGrath.  It was folded into quarters, so neither side of the sign was legible at all.  Before I could even unfold it, the retired police officer (who was not wearing a uniform) grabbed the sign away.  I said something like, “Hey! What are you doing?”  He didn't answer but dropped the sign on the floor, grabbed my upper body from behind, and started hauling me away from the podium toward the side of the room.  I was totally shocked.  Shugart's physical aggression against me was totally unexpected.  I weigh only 128 pounds, and he is much heavier, has a lot more muscles, and is presumably highly trained at hauling people around without injuring them.  At that point I said at medium volume, “You're a police officer! That is Assault!”  He kept propelling me along the side of the room toward the back. “That is Assault!”  He changed direction and aimed for the door.  “That is Assault!”

As we were nearing the door of the conference room, Jared Smith (I believe) appeared next to us holding my sign, which he had folded up one more time so none of it could be read.  I had the impression he was about to tear it up.  He said at medium volume, “I warned you not to create a disturbance!”  I replied at medium volume, “Fuck you!”  I must have been partly in shock because I almost never use profanity in public.  Jared Smith unfolded the sign with the side that said “Amy McGrath is a War Criminal” and showed it toward Ms. McGrath.  I said at medium volume, “She's a war criminal!” and then Shugart hauled me out the door, through the lobby of the conference center, out the doors of the building, and onto the sidewalk outside.  He let go of me there.  “I'll see you in court,” I said.  “I've been in court many times,” he answered.  I looked at his name tag and said, “Mike Shugart.”  He said, “That's right. Not trying to hide anything.”

A couple of NKP staffers came out and said, “If you come back in, we'll call the police.”  One of them said, “They've already been called.”  I told them angrily, “I have my stuff in there.  My cell phone is plugged in near the window.”  They went back in, got my stuff except for the sign, which they kept, and I went to my car and started driving back home to Lexington.  In the driveway on the way out, at least one police car passed me coming in.  I drove home.

Two Phone Conversations with Georgetown Police Sergeant Nash, same day

After driving back to my home in Lexington, I called the Georgetown Police (their non-emergency number) to report what I thought was assault against me.  I called at 11:10 am, spoke with an operator, and waited for a call back.  Some minutes later, Sergeant Nash called back and asked what I wanted to report.  I said I believed I had been assaulted at the NKP conference.  He asked why I didn't wait there for the police to arrive.  I answered that I preferred to call from my home in Lexington.  I said the conference would be going on all day and that it would be possible for them to arrest Mike Shugart any time they wanted.  The following statements are approximate.

Sergeant Nash said, “If you weren't injured, it wasn't assault.”

Young: What was it then, in your opinion? I'm not an attorney. What do you think he did to me?

Nash: I feel like he was trying to keep the peace.  He was preventing a disorderly situation.

Young: There was no disorderly situation until Mr. Shugart grabbed me and hauled me 100 feet.

Nash: The organizers of the event are not pressing charges. You left. You didn't call us.

Young: I preferred to call you from home. I'd like to write up the incident and fax it to you.

Nash: Our fax machine isn't working right now.

Young: Ok, how about if I mail it to you at the police station? The New Kentucky Project people also committed theft. They stole my sign.

Nash: If anyone gets charged with a crime, it will be you.  He was doing what he should have done to prevent a disturbance.

Young: So it's a crime to stand up in a room full of people, but it's not a crime to grab them by surprise and haul them 100 feet?

Nash: I'm not going to talk to you on the phone. You'll have to come into the station and talk with me.

Young: Ok, how about next week?

Nash: No, I'll be in training.

Young: All week long?

Nash: Yes.

Young: How about if I come in and talk to another officer? How many officers do you all have there?

Nash: No other officer will be handling this.

Young: Disorderly conduct sounds like what Mike Shugart did. You should charge him with that.

Nash: I'm not going to charge him with anything. He did the right thing by acting to prevent you from creating a disturbance.

Young: Now you're a psychic. You know what's going to happen in the future.

Nash: I'm not talking to you over the phone.

I hung up and started looking up KRS statutes on my laptop. I first found:

KRS 508.030 Assault in the fourth degree. As Sergeant Nash had said, in Kentucky, “Assault” requires the victim to be injured.

Then I looked up:

KRS 525.055 Disorderly conduct in the first degree. (a Class A misdemeanor)

(1) A person is guilty of disorderly conduct in the first degree when he or she:

(a) In a public place and with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm, or wantonly creating a risk thereof:

1. Engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous, or threatening behavior;

2. Makes unreasonable noise; or

3. Creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act that serves no legitimate purpose...

I called the Georgetown Police Department's non-emergency number back, the operator took my second request to talk with Sergeant Nash, and he called me back at about 12:15 pm.

Young: I did a little research online and found a statute that I think is relevant to Mike Shugart's actions this morning: Disorderly Conduct in the First Degree. He did what is described in KRS 525.055, Section (1).

Nash: I'm not charging him with a crime. If anyone gets charged, it's gonna be you.

Young: So standing up with a folded-up sign is disorderly conduct, but grabbing a person with absolutely no warning and hauling them 100 feet out of a building is not disorderly conduct?

Nash: You had a backpack. He didn't know what you had in it. What happened recently in Cincinnati?

Young: A shooting.

Nash: So you could've been about to pull out a gun.

Young: That's bullshit.

Nash: I'm going to let you go now.

Young: Bye.

However, a person anywhere in the United States may sue a perpetrator for assault and battery:

Assault is defined as:

Battery is defined as:

What can we glean from all of this?

The American Political Landscape is getting rougher. Now it is a matter of whose opinion counts the most. Americans are so divided on so many issues. There is no common ground for one political party over another.  We are seeing parties and fringes of parties, ones that could never hope to be taken seriously being taken VERY seriously. They are getting their candidates elected, even some of those with socialist core principles. It may be more than just voting against all of the above candidates.

A political shift is going on in America. All the while the traditional parties, as in the case of the war hero, war criminal – all depends on your standpoint dependency. Her supporters are willing to revert to violence and other means to get elected.  It will not stop there, as we can see from the media outlets. It is one side or another; they are closing ranks—and diversity of opinions is doublespeak.

America is in for a tough political realization and wakeup call of what is to come. I wish I was not a soothsayer of hard times to come. But the future does not look good, and we will be seeing more of what has happened in Kentucky all across the country as the clock ticks to midterm elections and beyond.

Author: Jeffrey Silverman