Pelosi’s attack highlights growing fears of political violence
“While we wait to hear more, every American should turn down the heat,” Sen. Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, said in a statement Friday. “This is increasingly obvious: disturbed individuals easily succumb to conspiracy theories and rage – the consequences are bloody and un-American.”
Political violence is hardly a new phenomenon. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, then the third-ranking Republican, was shot and critically wounded in 2017. congressional baseball practice in the suburbs of Washington, DC, by a man with a anger at Republicans; Mr. Scalise he said the presence of his security detail saved his life.
But since the attack on the Capitol, members of Congress have reported feeling increasingly vulnerable both in Washington and at home in their districts. The number of recorded threats against members of Congress increased more than tenfold in the five years after Mr. Trump was elected in 2016, according to data from the Capitol Police, the federal law enforcement arm that protects Congress, with more than 9,625 threats reported in 2021.
Many of those threats come from people with mental illnesses who are not believed to pose an immediate danger, a Capitol police spokesman said, and even fewer of those threats result in arrests or charges.
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But the legislators did reported an increase in dire straits that have seen them dip into their campaign accounts to increase their security and reduce their public footprint.
The man who sent an angry email to Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, for example, repeatedly showed up outside her house, armed with a semi-automatic handgun and shouting threats and curses. An unknown visitor came to the home of Sen. Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and broke a storm window.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if a senator or a member of the House was killed,” Ms. Collins said in an interview earlier this year. “What started with abusive phone calls is now turning into active threats of violence and actual violence.”
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