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Paul Solovay pushes a bullhorn toward Senate candidate Shiva Ayyadurai outside the Great Barrington Town Hall during a July 22 speaking engagement at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts.

Great Barrington police identify man arrested for assault against Senate candidate

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By Monday, Jul 23, 2018 News 36

Great Barrington — Great Barrington police have released the name of the man who was arrested for shoving a Senate candidate outside Sunday’s town-hall meeting with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts.

Chief William Walsh said Paul D. Solovay, 74, of Hillsdale, New York, was arrested and charged with assault and battery and disorderly conduct. Video of the incident was captured by a supporter of the candidate, freelance journalist Marcelo Guadiana.

See video of the incident in which Paul D. Solovay, 74, of Hillsdale, New York, is alleged to have assaulted U.S. Senate candidate Shiva Ayyadurai:

Walsh said at approximately 12:51 p.m. Sunday, July 22, Great Barrington police were providing assistance with security prior to an event hosted by Warren at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. While waiting in line to enter the event, Solovay exited the line and approached U.S. Senate candidate Shiva Ayyadurai, who was addressing the crowd from across Castle Street using a bullhorn-style microphone.

“Solovay allegedly engaged in a verbal confrontation that became physical when he pushed the bullhorn toward the speaker, striking his mouth,” Walsh said in a written statement. “Officers acted quickly to subdue Solovay and place him into custody.”

Solovay can be seen approaching the Ayyadurai group as he walked down Castle Street clutching a retracted umbrella. He appeared agitated.

Solovay was subsequently transported to the Great Barrington police station for booking. Walsh said he was later released on personal recognizance and was scheduled to be arraigned today in Southern Berkshire District Court.

Witnesses say the man appeared to have been provoked by Ayyadurai and his supporters who shouted anti-Warren slogans and called her a racist. The supporters were also carrying signs that said “No to Warren” labeled her a fake Indian—a reference to her disputed claim of Native American heritage. At a later gathering of people assembled to hear Warren speak at the gazebo, Ayyadurai’s group also spoke over Warren and attempted to disrupt her speech.

Solovay is a well-known artist and photographer in the Hudson Valley. Click here to read his biography.

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36 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Maria Nation says:

    Terri Cowgill,

    I know you’re a busy editor but it is unfortunate you left so much out of this piece of reporting.

    While you don’t happen to mention this in your reporting, it is clear from the video clip (coincidentally created by one of the Ayyadurai supporters) that Ayyadurai came to provoke a reaction – and got one. Bravo! Score one for the provocateurs with the bullhorn who verbally assaulted the peaceful crowd waiting on line – and then had the audacity to say that liberals are “brainwashed racists” who “don’t want to engage in a conversation.” NOTE TO Ayyadurai: If you sincerely desire a “conversation” leave the bullhorn at home.

    You also forgot to mention that Ayyadurai is a brilliant MIT graduate (with multiple degrees)… who seems to be tanking his career with controversial claims that he “invented email,” getting arrested for assault and battery for attempting to stab police who came to answer a call from his girlfriend who reported that he was assaulting her, suing multiple organizations for disputing the “I invented email” claim and, more recently, hooking his wagon to the popular Alt-Right “QANON conspiracy theory” that posits “…that a member of the Trump administration—or perhaps Trump himself—is spending his time writing cryptic riddles meant to guide hundreds of thousands of amateur sleuths toward evidence proving that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is not investigating the Trump campaign for possible collusion with Russian officials, but is actually working alongside President Trump to dismantle a global satanic pedophile ring….” (for more see: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/massachusetts-senate-candidate-shiva-ayyadurai-spreads-qanon-conspiracy-theory/).

    Oh, but hey… At least now we know that a courageous 74 year old artist who was thrown to the ground by a bunch of Alt Right thugs on a Sunday in the Berkshires has a name: Paul Solovay.

    Great investigative reporting there, Terry!


    1. Terry Cowgill says:

      Maria, sorry this piece doesn’t meet your lofty journalistic standards. It was a news release I adapted for publication literally an hour before getting in the car to get to town hall for a GB selectboard meeting. I write this as I’m waiting for the selectmen to come out of executive session. Perhaps you would like to contribute your estimable skills to the Edge as a freelancer?

      Much of what you describe can be witnessed by anyone who wants to watch the video, which is embedded in this story. It is obvious Shiva was trolling to get a reaction. It is also obvious that the Shiva is a nut. Readers don’t need me to tell them that.

      As for the rest of Shiva’s bio, thanks for the link. But really, why the outburst?

      Sheesh …

      1. Maria Nation says:

        Why the outburst? Really?

        Because when some unhinged Alt-right thugs come to Great Barrington armed with a camera and a bullhorn in order to troll a peaceful group of our fellow citizens on an otherwise normal summer Sunday, and a 74 year old artist gets tossed to the ground so that the thugs can get their twitter post claiming “liberals are against free speech” (which is a well know Alt-Right tactic by the way), this disturbing event requires more from the Fourth Estate than adapting a news release without any context or research at all.

        Would I like to contribute to the Edge as a freelancer? I would say I just have. Whom do I invoice?

      2. Holly Morse says:

        I was at the head of the line waiting for well over an hour, in the heat, to hear Senator Warren. During much of that time, I endured being assaulted by the Shiva campaign. Ayyadurai Shiva kept up a virtually unbroken verbal attack on the crowd waiting on line. He hurled insults intended to provoke. We were called out as racist, elitist, ignorant, and so on. He also attacked Warren. Using Trump’s offensive Pocahontas meme to denigrate Warren’s possible use of her Indian heritage in her application to Harvard, he insisted both that he was “the real” Indian and that “Harvard isn’t even a university” calling it instead “a hedge-fund.” One could not carry on a conversation, or read, or otherwise distract oneself–the amplified verbal barrage was simply too loud. In self-defense, the crowd tried several strategies. A young woman walked the line and encouraged the crowd to chant “this is what democracy looks like” and to sing “This Land Is Your Land” and “This Little Light of Mine.” As the peaceful group engaged in this way, it ignited a louder response from Shiva and his followers. Some on line became visibly uncomfortable at the friction growing between the two sides, now attempting to drown each other out. Some urged the line to ignore Shiva. By the time Paul Solovay broke the line, tensions were at a boiling point. Where were the police at this juncture? The situation was already out of hand by the time the stand-off took place. It could so easily have been defused and prevented. All of this material was news worthy. If I had not been there, feet from where a 74 year old was held on the ground in a choke-hold by a young guy in a cowboy hat, and had read your piece, I would have had no idea of the extraordinary nature of this event — an alt-right nut-job candidate and his posse were permitted to provoke a crowd waiting on line in Great Barrington, without break, for hours. Instead of a lead which points us in that direction, your article leads with “Great Barrington police identify man arrested for assault against Senate candidate.” Context is not too much to ask for. When you chose to characterize Shiva’s provocative actions as “addressing the crowd” you missed the boat on this one and misled your readers.

    2. John says:

      While the individual arrested may have a wonderful academic education, and out of this world personal success claims, that has no bearing in this incident and certainly is not a license to invoke Physical violence, to anyone. Period.

      1. Maria Nation says:

        Just to clarify: the individual with the “wonderful academic education” is the provocateur with the bullhorn, named Shiva Ayyadurai. Born in India but educated at MIT who, despite the largesse of this country, despite the” wonderful academic education” obtained in the very heart of white liberalism, has come to believe “white liberals are all racists.” (Go figure.) His Alt-right cohorts threw at 74 year old artist, Paul Solovay, to the pavement then roughly held him there until he was arrested. Solovay’s crime was to shove Ayyadurai’s bullhorn away. The men who assaulted Solovay were not arrested, even though they came to our community to provoke a violent reaction they could then post on social media. It’s a well-known tactic of the Alt-Right who actually give lessons in how to do this. It is unfortunate that Mr. Solovay took the bait and shoved the bullhorn, and (just for the record) I’m not encouraging violence.

        We are living in times that stretch credulity and bruise the heart.

    3. Scott J Sassano says:

      Shiva Ayyadurai did n’t provoke anything. The only violence I have seen came from Elizabeth Warren’s side. Shiva isn’t alt-Right, he is his own person. As for Shiva arrest, those charges were dismissed hour later due to lack of evidence. Shiva did invent the e-mail at a young age. Most south Asians are highly intelligent. It might be hard for white supremacists like yourself to believe a non-white person cannot accomplish anything. That link you provided “Right Wing Watch” is another political left-wing organization who are very biased. White Liberals smile at your face and use the same talking points as the White Conservative, behind their backs and just are racist. Seriously Maria Nation, stop race-baiting. You are the real racist.

  2. Jose says:

    Both of you… Look at your own party and how you want to suppress anything and everything that you don’t agree with by calling it hate speech and then tell me who is unhinged.

    1. Tom Farley says:

      Are all these people who don’t leave their last names when they post the Russians we hear about subverting our system by sowing hate and misinformation ?
      Just askin

  3. John says:

    The individual arrested clearly cannot control himself, or his physical violence. Consequently he was arrested, went to jail, is facing charges then finally punishment.

    If your on the left, or on the right, physical violence is not ok. Freedom of speech is protected, and justice is served.

    1. Carl Stewart says:


      The man who was arrested did not “go to jail” as you speculate. He was taken to the Great Barrington Police Department on South Main Street, where he was issued what is known as an appearance ticket. This required him to appear in Court yesterday. You are correct that justice will be served, though. If past practices are any indication, the case will be continued without a finding, and Mr. Solovay will be lectured by the judge hearing the case and will perhaps be given a fine. Of course, you are aware that during his campaign, Trump encouraged violence against anyone who disagreed with him and, in fact, went so far as to offer to pay the legal fees and fines of anyone who protested his candidacy.

      1. Carl Stewart says:

        Oops, omitted were the critical words of the final sentence, “offer to pay the legal fees and fines of anyone who physically assaulted anyone who protested his candidacy.”

  4. Eleanor windman says:

    This should serve as a warning… it’s just the beginning of the rage and outrage
    that we are likely to see throughout this election. It’s very frightening because it’s contagious. My heart goes out to Solovay and his emotional response but we “Get it” but we can’t condone it.

    1. Dr. Barbara Barak says:

      I agree with Eleanor, but can we have some restriction on people staging raucous demonstrations with bullhorns designed to disrupt an event?

      1. Carl Stewart says:

        As the right-wing has been pointing out more and more recently, First Amendment rights do not apply only to the left. Who, in your view, is going to determine when the exercise of protest is “raucous” enough to be prohibited? Shiva’s minions were uncouth, rude, undemocratic, and a number of other negative things but they did have the right to be there.

  5. Leigh Davis says:

    I was there and witnessed Shiva’s outbursts. I appreciate the link to Paul Solovay’s bio. Thank you for including it, Terry.

  6. John says:

    Just curious? Was the thug who pushed a 74 year old man to the ground charged with anything?

  7. Harold Schrager says:

    Terry Cowgill, You are a journalist not a reader. Your defensive personal remarks are inappropriate and your stature is diminished. We don’t need to read you feel overworked and don’t like your job. And we certainly don’t want to hear you tell readers to go elsewhere because they had concerns about your article. You can make a little more of an attempt to be a professional journalist.

    1. Carl Stewart says:

      Absolutely correct, Harold Schrager. Mr. Cowgill has been acting most unprofessionally in this incident, including his very clearly biased view of Sen. Warren’s appearance on Sunday.

  8. Lawrence Davis-Hollander says:

    I wasn’t there and am not a legal expert so please take my comments with a grain of salt but the whole incident seems full of flaws and out of character for what I have thought the Berkshires are. Free speech protected ? Absolutely. Does that inclu de broadcasting from across the street to hundreds of people in the middle of town? Why weren’t the
    police right there? Solavay was a bit out of hand but arrested for that? Okay if he should have been arrested
    what about the assault upon him which was far more of an assault than anything he did. I mean the guy is 74 years old! I’m not taking sides but issues abound

  9. Shawn G. says:

    The Shiva protestors: Did they need a permit and did they have one?
    I thought ‘proselytizing to a captive audience’ was illegal? A captive audience is one that cannot reasonably walk away (they’re on a subway or on line, etc) as opposed to just walking around town. (I’m using a broader definition of proselytizing here.)

    1. Joseph Method says:

      I was also wondering about the Great Barrington noise ordinance: https://ecode360.com/13819159 I have no idea whether the megaphone he was using was louder than the dBa limits or not, or if anyone was measuring them. It does seem like if I took one down to main street and used it that the police would probably tell me to turn it off based on the ordinance. I also think that it’s a somewhat extenuating (not excusing) circumstance for Solovay. The megaphone was blaring into his face and he lost his cool. This is why megaphones are an edge case for free speech: they were both exercising their free speech but one side had “more” speech because they had electric amplification.

      1. John says:

        Would not suprise me if Warren was louder without a bullhorn….

  10. Karen Chamberland says:

    Name calling is a form of bullying. Physical retaliation is never ok. We spend countless hours in our schools to try our best to prevent this behavior. And for our youth to witness this in our community is a slap in the face to every school employee. Both men should be charged. One for assault, and the other for trying to incite a riot. We need to show our youth that this behavior will not be tolerated.

    1. Shawn G. says:

      Where the ‘like’ button?!

  11. Joseph Method says:

    Random fact about Shiva Ayyadurai that I just learned: he was married to Fran Drescher from The Nanny…

  12. Danielle King says:

    This entire video is posted on YouTube. I was unable to copy the link to paste here. The man initiated forward aggression. He walked over to him from the crowd, shouting. He crossed the street and got in his face, wielding a large umbrella like a sceptor the entire time. He encroaced so close he was in less than an arm’s length from the bullhorn, still shouting. He then pushed the bullhorn into his mouth, using it as the weapon to assault him. He did seem irrational. Regardless your opinion, you can’t just walk up to people and assault them. The physical aggression was planned, unprovoked and he should be charged. I was surprised he didn’t assault the woman who came between them, frankly. I commend her for requesting assistance from the officer as obviously his attention was in another direction at first, though he was immediately subdued by the officer after a peaceful bystander intervened and the officer was alerted. I commend the videographer, he captured the entire incident. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this on a national newsbroadcast.

    1. Joseph Method says:

      Solovay lost his cool and did something he shouldn’t have done, but your description of the video simply isn’t correct. He wasn’t pointing the umbrella (which is normal sized) like a scepter; he was holding it and gesturing with it. When the woman puts her hand out to block him he transfers it to the other hand and holds it at his side. There is nothing planned about what Solovay does. You can see him getting angrier and you can see the exact moment when he loses it and decides to reach out. His eyes dart around as if to say, “I know I’ll get this megaphone out of my face” and then he reaches out. And then Shiva’s guys immediately jump on him. I’m not surprised he didn’t assault the woman because he was barely aware she was there. He’s totally fixated on Shiva and he has no idea what he’s going to do until he does it (and probably instantly regrets it). That’s the video. I’m embarrassed to say how many times I’ve watched it.

  13. Milt Mankoff says:

    This is the alt-right strategy in operation. If the provocateur, running as an independent for office, wanted to get votes for his views, did he think spending hours haranguing people who he had to know would never vote for him make sense? Of course not, so this was clearly not designed as part of his outreach to potential voters.

    The goal, as others have noted, was to create an incident in which someone, tired of being insulted, over-reacted in some fashion to the provocateur. The overreaction was trying to cover the noxious megaphone, not assault the person haranguing him—as the video makes clear. Was this intrusion of the megaphone legally permitted. Probably not, unless the speaker was violating the noise codes of Great Barrington. But to call it an assault on a person, as the headline of the story indicates, is not what the videotape reveals.

    Personally , I believe the best approach is to “love bomb” people like the speaker, not because we love him, but because it would make a youtube video that these al-right trolls would never want posted. Everyone could have walked to the speaker and his group and just repeated “We love you. We love you.” or something calculated to destoy the planned script. It takes a lot of discipline to do that, but it would be worth it.

    1. Scott J Sassano says:

      Shiva isn’t Alt-Right

  14. Jim Balfanz says:

    Hillsdale, NY. You betcha. Can’t even vote for Warren.

  15. Carl Stewart says:

    There are a few parts of this story that have been touched on by many of those commenting and these deserve further discussion.

    1. I believe, although I’m not certain, that the gathering of Ayyadurai and his supporters probably requires a permit from the Town of Great Barrington. Does anyone know if a permit is necessary and, if so, did the Ayyadurai group have one?

    2. There is a noise bylaw in town. A pretty simple device, a decibel meter, will determine if the sound limit has been exceeded. It would be interesting to know if the police officers took readings.

    3. As much as many of us may sympathize with Mr. Solovay, he quite clearly committed a criminal act. Once he pushed the bullhorn into Ayyadurai’s face, the police had no option but to charge him. However, the Ayyadurai supporter(s) committed the same crime in attacking Solovay. Ayyadurai could have used appropriate force in self-defense, but none of his supporters can claim that defense. Tackling Solovay to the ground is precisely the crime with which Solovay was charged. It is wholly proper for the police to charge the 1 or 2 who assaulted Solovay. Where is the reporting on this?

    4. One of the problems that “liberals” have had for many decades is that they are much too proper. If there is to be realresistance to this country’s very dangerous drift to fascism, the response has to be something a bit more than tut-tutting. Something like an appearance by Berkshire Bateria standing alongside the Ayyadurai group and drowning them out would have been interesting.

    1. Scott J Sassano says:

      Dr Shiva Ayyadurai has a 1st Amendment right to peacefully assemble a protest.

      1. Shawn G. says:

        1st amendment rights are limited, and Ayyadurai was not peaceful. The volume of his harangue, the personal attacks/insults, interrupting the speech of the person whom we came to hear, to me all add up to extreme disrespect and verbal assault. I’m not interested in hearing the message of a person who acts like this.
        P.S. Proselytizing to a “captive audience” is illegal.

    2. peter greer says:

      good points all Carl . I was also wondering about the permit , the noise level, the proximity to the warren event and the response by Ayyadurai’ secret service or duly authorized law enforcement protectors who think they can assault with immunity. That piece is to me the most troubling.. Can we all retain protectors to kick someone s butt if there is ever a threat or altercation? We can have mini armies!

  16. kritterz says:

    Boys and girls…The old white guy,who crossed the street, committed assault. He is not the victim

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