Threats against members of Congress have spiked sharply in recent years

From a baseball practice shooting to regular threats to members to the insurrection, threats of violence are growing

Eric Garcia
Friday 28 October 2022 20:21 BST
Nancy Pelosi's husband attacked during break-in at San Francisco home

On Friday morning, an assailant allegedly broke into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home in San Francisco and violently assaulted her husband Paul.

Officers identified the suspect as David Depape, who reportedly yelled “Where is Nancy”. He struggled with Mr Pelosi over a hammer before beating him with the tool, police said. Mr Depape is now being held in San Francisco County Jail. He will be arraigned on charges of attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, burglary and other charges.

As speaker of the House and the person second in line in the list of presidential succession, Ms Pelosi is already one of the most heavily guarded elected officials in the country. Ms Pelosi was not at home at the time of the attack. But the attack is just the latest incident as threats on elected officials, particularly those on Capitol Hill, have escalated in the last five years.

According to US Capitol Police, in 2017, there were 3,939 threats made against members of Congress. On 14 June 2017, James Hodgkinson opened fire while Republican members of Congress practiced for the annual Congressional baseball between GOP and Democratic members. Mr Hodgkinson shot House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (now House minority whip), leading him to be hospitalised.

That number nearly tripled in 2021 to 9,625. In between that time, many threats became more aggressive. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is among one of the most threatened members of Congress, The New York Times reported, and she only received more security after Capitol Police flagged a threatening tweet.

In the same Times article, Senator Susan Collins, also the subject of numerous threats after she voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, warned about escalating violence.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if a senator or House member were killed,” she told The Times. “What started with abusive phone calls is now translating into active threats of violence and real violence.”

Moreover, the violent assault at the US Capitol on 6 January of last year threatened the lives of numerous members of Congress and many people were filmed searching for and screaming about Ms Pelosi. Video footage during former president Donald Trump’s impeachment trial showed just that.

“Where are you, Nancy,” one person said during the Capitol riot. “Oh Nancy, we're looking for you!”

The assault at the US Capitol also left multiple officers injured and four died by suicide.

Similarly, last year, when a man attacked the US Capitol with a car, the assault killed Officer William Evans. In addition, last year, Capitol Police arrested Floyd Ray Roseberry from North Carolina after he allegedly threatened Capitol Hill with a bomb in his pickup truck.

But violence doesn’t just come from outsiders. Last year, the House of Representatives voted to censure Representative Paul Gosar after he posted an anime video on his Twitter account that showed a character with his head killing Ms Ocasio-Cortez.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in