Loudoun names Andrew Beacham, who once tore pages out of Koran, to library board

 


Andrew Beacham, left, tears a page from the Koran in front of the White House as Randall Terry, right, watches on September 11, 2010. Beacham was protesting in support of Florida pastor Terry Jones and his announcement that he would burn Korans.(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

UPDATE, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.: Delgaudio said today he will seek to rescind Beacham’s appointment to the library board. A short story on that is here.

A Sterling man who once tore out pages of the Koran in front of the White House, and whose fierce rhetoric on Twitter included declaring “the only good progressive is a dead progressive,” has been approved by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors to sit on the county library’s board of trustees for the next four years.

The Loudoun supervisors last week confirmed Andrew Beacham, 31, a recently defeated candidate for Congress in Kentucky, to the library board. But several supervisors, including Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) who nominated him, said they were unaware of Beacham’s colorful past. Beacham has twice stood and heckled President Obama during speeches about health care, he has worked closely with longtime anti-abortion activist Randall Terry, and his active presence on Twitter indicates he has little patience for liberals, gays  or Nelson Mandela.

Beacham said in an interview Thursday he had no agenda for the Loudoun libraries and no interest in banning or throwing out any books, including the Koran. “My goal is not to go around directing what people read,” Beacham said. “I’m happy to serve the community in any way I can. That’s my goal, to be a public servant and partner with the parents to help them educate our children.” He said his parents were educators and his mother worked as a librarian, so he agreed to take the unpaid post, one of nine library trustees in Loudoun.

Beacham, a freelance videographer and artist, said he moved to Sterling early last year, but he has been in this area many times in recent years. In 2009, after joining the Tea Party movement, Beacham stood and disrupted Obama’s speech at the University of Maryland, protested outside an Obama appearance at Wakefield High School in Arlington, and spoke at a press conference with Terry at the National Press Club. He worked closely as a video producer with Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue, for nearly four years. He also stood and disrupted Obama’s graduation speech at the University of Notre Dame that year, and disrupted the Senate confirmation hearing of then-Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor over his opposition to abortion.

On his website promoting his 2012 bid as an independent candidate for Congress in Kentucky, Beacham described himself as “a full-time Pro-Life missionary and activist for Christian policies in government, traveling to over 20 states to protest, lobby, and get pro-life candidates on the ballot.”  He aired television ads in Kentucky comparing Obama to Adolf Hitler and serial killer Ted Bundy, and featured graphic images of dead fetuses.

Beacham attracted the most attention on Sept. 11, 2010, when he stood in front of the White House with Terry and tore pages out of the Koran. Beacham and Terry said they were standing in solidarity with the Rev. Terry Jones, a Florida pastor who had threatened to burn copies of the Koran. Beacham read passages calling for hatred toward Christians and Jews, and told reporters that the only reason he didn’t burn the Koran was because burning on White House property was a felony. “The Twin Towers were taken down because of the Koran and other religious teachings,” Agence France-Presse quoted Beacham saying.

More recently, Beacham was featured last year on an episode of MTV’s series “Real Life,” which was subtitled, “I Hate the Government.” The show featured three young anti-government activists, and Beacham was shown with Terry planning protests and being arrested in the Capitol.

Beacham said he was not opposed to people owning and reading the Koran. “I would encourage people to read it,” he said. “My problem isn’t reading it, it’s with what it says. What I did was an act of intellectual self-defense.”

He understands that Muslims may be offended by his actions. “But I personally don’t see them as a threat,” Beacham said. “I don’t have a problem with Muslims personally. I have friends who are Muslims.”

Asked about his disruption of the president’s speeches, Beacham said, “America has a history of doing exactly what I’ve done. Anybody who says they disagree with my exercise of freedom of speech impeding others’ freedom of speech, I guess you have a problem with Thomas Jefferson or Samuel Adams or Patrick Henry…My point is, that’s always the way it’s been and always the way it will be. If you can’t take the heat, you shouldn’t be an elected official.” He has also held anti-abortion protests outside the home of Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and the office of Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), and hung Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in effigy.

Beacham also attended the murder trial of Scott Roeder, who shot and killed abortion doctor George Tiller in Wichita in 2009, a slaying which was lauded by Terry. Beacham said he didn’t agree with Roeder’s actions, but also didn’t think Roeder received a fair trial. Roeder was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Beacham said, “You have a country that’s turned its back on a majority of the people’s opinions. There’s a shifting going on. We’ve shifted away from what used to be mainstream orthodox Christianity.”

Beacham is particularly outspoken on Twitter, and said he would continue to speak there. Last month when former President George H.W. Bush expressed his regrets at being unable to attend the funeral for Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Beacham tweeted at the president, “I didn’t know you supported communist terrorists killing Christians and raping innocent girls.” Beacham said he was not a fan of Mandela’s, because “I’m not a big fan of communism. Definitely blame me, I’m an American.” He tweeted in 2009 that he would not pay his taxes if Obamacare passed, though he said Thursday he had paid in recent years.

Delgaudio said he was unaware that Beacham had run for Congress, or torn the Koran, or much of anything about his background. He said he met Beacham while knocking on doors in Sterling recently, and that Beacham would “have the ability to get the word out and do things on a practical basis. He knows that tactical outreach is necessary and he lives in a diverse community that’s barely scraping by. He’s a volunteer.”

Loudoun Chairman Scott York noted that the county board approves dozens of citizen nominees each year, and that the information provided on Beacham was not very detailed. Beacham’s four-paragraph resume only said he had “worked in the field of media production and broadcasting over the last 4 years.” York said he would look further into the situation. Two other supervisors said they also were unaware of Beacham’s background. Library Director Chang Liu did not return a call seeking comment.

Here are some of Beacham’s recent comments on Twitter:

 

 

 

 

Tom Jackman is a native of Northern Virginia and has been covering the region for The Post since 1998.
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