Immigration protest at Heck's office followed pre-arranged script

After immigration reform protesters came to Rep. Joe Heck’s Las Vegas office Wednesday and a handful were arrested, Democrat Erin Bilbray sent out a petition to, among other things, call out the congressman’s “decision to call the police on Nevadan's (sic) exercising their First Amendment rights - Heck is not for us.”

The congressman already had put out a release declaring: “Joe Heck will not be bullied into amnesty.”

Amid all the high dudgeon on both sides is that this was choreographed on both sides, I have learned. There was very little spontaneity.

The activists from the Progressive Leadership Alliance had met with Metropolitan Police officials, informing them of their intention to occupy Heck’s offices and arranging for a handful of their cadre to be arrested – or should I say “arrested” because they were simply cited and let go, with no handcuffs ever put on.

Having been told by PLAN what was to occur Wednesday – just as police are informed by the Culinary union before its protests – Metro contacted Heck’s office to prepare the denizens for what was to come.

“We knew they were going to go there, that they planned on walking up and down with a bullhorn and eventually going into the congressman’s office and refusing to leave,” Chuck Callaway, Metro’s director of intergovernmental affairs, told me.

Callaway said police officials informed Heck’s office staff that if the protest went down as PLAN said it would, and told the congressman’s employees, “If they refuse to leave when you ask them to, call us.”

And that’s what happened – indeed, Metro already had officers there because, as Callaway put it, they wanted to make sure the event ended peaceably.

“Our district staff were essentially coached by Metro on how to proceed so that both sides could get what they wanted,” Heck spokesman Greg Lemon told me. “Metro then responded from all of 200 yards away where they were sitting waiting for the protesters (per their announced intentions) to arrive and escalate the situation to the point where they had to be called.”

You can argue that instead of rebuffing the activists that Heck’s office should have been more accommodating. Maybe.

But this was a planned stunt, designed to get media attention, and Heck’s office staff decided to call Metro because….Metro told them to.

This was scripted from start to finish.