Vermont Liberty supporter beaten, pepper-sprayed after State House rally

Pepperspray stain on the shirt Skau wore to State House last Saturday – Page photo

By Guy Page

A Poultney woman says she was struck in the face with an open hand twice, struck again in the face with a stolen folded political sign, and then pepper sprayed after the Vermont Liberty rally at the Vermont State House Saturday. 

Two witnesses corroborate her account. Montpelier police are investigating.

Josh Curiale and Karen Skau during the Vermont Liberty event, before the assault

As Vermont Liberty founder John Klar addressed the crowd on the State House steps at about 1 pm, Skau – a Vermont Liberty supporter – saw three teenaged girls not far away. 

The girls were seen to have been spitting on people during a December, 2020 Trump rally. Recognizing them as possible disruptive influences, she approached them and began to engage them in polite conversation that she hoped would distract and defuse them. The girls called Skau a “crackerjack” and were playing loud music with vulgar, racially-charged lyrics. 

It was clear to Skau “they were purposely there to instigate and antagonize,” she said during a Vermont Daily interview Thursday afternoon. The conversation then turned to their music, which was sexually explicit and used the “n-word” freely.  Skau said she wondered aloud why it seems okay for some to say [n-word] but it’s not okay for others. The girls said that as black people (which Skau didn’t immediately recognize by their skin color) they were allowed to use that word. 

The Capitol Police then asked the girls to turn down the music. The girls soon left. 

“Then I was like, ‘okay, they’re gone,” Skau said. “Great, beautiful weather. Nice, peaceful day.”

But not peaceful for long.

At about 4:30, as scheduled activities were winding down, a woman who identified herself as the girl’s mother drove up in a pickup truck, got out, approached Skau from behind as she stood on the west side of the State House lawn and demanded to know if Skau had called her daughter an [n-word]. 

“I started walking towards them,” Skau said. She told the mother, “let me explain.” 

Had she been given the opportunity, Skau would have said she raised two black children in a childcare setting for 10 years, that her children are part Korean, and that she would never use that word as a racial slur. 

But she didn’t get the chance.

Skau said she did not get in the woman’s face or act or speak in a threatening manner, stopping about three feet from her. At that point the mother yelled “Get away from me. Don’t come near me.” Then the mother stepped forward and struck Skau twice in the face with her hand. 

“I was just in shock,” Skau recalls. She remembers saying “O my word, call the cops.” She did not retaliate. 

“Then one of the girls handed her [the assailant] the sign and she smacked me in the head hard twice with it.” The sign had been stolen from the State House lawn and folded into a stiff object.

In the first few moments of the unexpected assault, Skau’s friend Shona Reiter of Stowe was fumbling with her cellphone camera, trying to get it to record. So she missed videotaping the next stage of the assault: the pepper spray.

“I thought I was recording. I hit and missed the button,” Reiter, 70, said. “I was about 15 feet away.”

“She made an effort to move towards me and spray me,” Skau said. “She approached and sprayed twice. She was just like, shrieking and acting like she was about to die.”

 Then the assailant fled for her nearby pickup truck. What happened next is recorded on Reiter’s video, posted on Skau’s Facebook page.

“I followed her to the parking lot after she was hitting me,” Skau said. “I didn’t want her fleeing the scene. I’m not letting her get away with it. This happens too much. I said ‘no you’re not leaving.’ I got in front of the car.” At the same time Curiale also approached the car and pointed a pair of flag poles at the windshield in a ‘stay there’ gesture.

The video shows that after some contact between Skau and Curiale with the truck, the truck won’t stop. Skau and Curiale stand aside enough for the truck to leave speedily. 

Skau, Curiale and Reiter all are pressing charges, and the assault is under investigation. They say Montpelier police have video that shows the hand, poster and pepper spray assaults. 

“I’m not letting her get away with it,” Skau said. “This happens too much.” A Support The Police rally on the State House lawn last summer was disrupted by chanting, profane, in-your-face protesters, intimidating attendees and preventing them from being heard. When the protesters apparently caught a single attendee making an angry remark, the video was shared on WCAX, the story went ‘national’, and Gov. Scott condemned the remark as racist at a press conference. 

Skau said she has had signs ripped from her hands during protests. She, Reiter and Curiale also may press a civil suit as well. 

Since last Saturday, both Reiter and Skau say they’ve suffered post-traumatic stress. “It’s very traumatizing,” Skau said. “I’ve had trouble eating. It’s almost like having sudden death in the family. There’s like a heaviness on me.”

Reiter offered this ‘takeaway’: “More than the physical pain….My disappointment in our systems of keeping people safe, in the way things are in our society, and in our politics, that people are not given the opportunity to express peacefully without being silenced. My voice counts. Everybody’s voice counts. They need to stop silencing us. This is not the country I was raised in.”
More details – including the alleged assailant’s side of the story and the video and photo record – will be published in Vermont Daily as they become available. A 40-minute interview of Skau and Curiale, conducted by Mary Sheldon, appears below.

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Categories: Crime

17 replies »

  1. What is happening to our freedoms. Do people get paid for disrupting others or are they just so full of hate that they act it out?

  2. I guess when there are no consequences no one should be surprised. The people who go to peaceful assemblies with the intent of disruption by promoting confrontation should be held accountable for their actions. My hope is that MPD find, and appropriately charge the people responsible.

  3. Why wasn’t there any law enforcement there until everyone had disbanded?? This has happened before when conservatives get together for these events in Vermont and why I personally wasn’t there, myself. I had inquired from the organizers if there was going to be security & no one would answer. I’m an older, smaller-sized woman which is precisely the type who these cowardly lunatics target: the elderly, the disabled, children, and lone individuals.

    These people need to be PROSECUTED to the FULLEST extant and I hope that the victim sues the Governor’s Office for aiding in inciting this lawless mentality & behavior via Scott’s inflammatory remarks.

    Soooooooo “tolerant” huh, Scott – you rino! This is UNACCEPTABLE & DANGEROUS AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Stop your pandering, you jac-azz & take a STAND for peace & for freedom for ALL.

    I hope this poor young woman heals physically & emotionally, and that any monetary award she can get via the state paves the way.

    NOT TAKING THIS ANYMORE VERMONT! NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Totally agree with you Kathy Henry. You are right and Gov. Scott, his administration, are to blame to encourage lawlessness, hate, and race-baiting. He has to go along with all his comrades.

  4. Phil Scott is a racist and a race baiter, just like his democrat masters. He encourages violence by allowing the violent to scream “racist” every time they commit a crime. Let’s get rid of Phil Scott and his democrat overlords and take Vermont back.

    • Yes, agree. Gov. Scott is a race baiter. He is destroying Vermont along with all his comrades. He and his lawless administration needs to go.

  5. This is the most important story of the year. I wish i was there and could be a witness and participate in prosecuting these angry people who hide behind their racist ideologies to create more victims instead of healing debates. Freedom and Liberty are worth defending. Free Speech will be the first casualty of their ideological religion.

    Then I would want to tell them God forgives you your hate and violence. And God knows the people who fed them these lies and ideologies and they will punished in his way unless they seek His Mercy and Grace.

    “There is no Fear in Love.
    Perfect Love drives out Fear,
    because Fear has to do with punishment.
    The one who fears is not made perfect in Love.” 1 John 4:18

  6. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to our accounts of what happened to us on May 15th. Your story was very well written and hopefully will bring light to a glaring and growing problem here in Vermont and accross our nation. Thank you for all you do for Conservative voices here in Vermont. You are a light in this dark world. Keep up the good work.

  7. This assault demonstrates the danger of the left wing concept of the “microaggression”. A snowflake claims to be “harmed” by opinions and ideas put out by another, and justifies a physical retaliation. Remember snowflakes, your right to wave your fist end at someone else’s face. Who are the real bullies here? Best way to deal with a bully is to HIT BACK.

  8. In the face of the twisted reality of leftists who embrace the concept of the microaggression as a justification for physical attack, I would encourage all freedom-minded citizens who choose to attend such events in the future to record video of all altercations with leftist snowflakes and carry bear spray to be used defensively when the leftist snowflakes cross the line into physical confrontation. If we do have a civil war in this once-great Country, it will be started by leftists and finished by the freedom-minded. Those on the right tend to have the weapons and know how to use them. Those on the left tend to have a hard time deciding which public bathroom to use on a day to day basis…

  9. Prime example of that indoctrination curriculum in our public schools racing to produce minor activists who aren’t old enough to think logically. Anger is their MO backed by angry adults all for which are mind controlled (hmmm possibly paid even). Easy targets actually – are they also victims (and I am not defending their actions when I say this)? Then you have terrorist flags over schools and streets marred by the same – allowed by who? It’s the “who” that needs exposure right up to the top. It’s coming – oh it’s coming. Obviously any event in this environment should have security designated to protect.

  10. These smug-PC-children who are supposed to be inclusive, right-on and singing kumbaya kids are only the vegetarian offspring of tie-dyed, pony-tailed liberal lunatics. Micro-weight champions of mental health, they are what’s wrong with the world, and will willingly volunteer to have 666 micro-waved into their forehead or left arm when it all comes down..