Sun. Jun 4th, 2023

    Assault on Nancy Pelosi’s husband is dangerous escalation of political violence because individuals now feel ’empowered’ to carry out these acts alone, extremism expert says

    Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) takes measurements around Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s home after her husband Paul Pelosi was assaulted with hammer inside their Pacific Heights home early morning on October 28, 2022.

    The Friday attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband has quickly garnered comparisons to January 6.
    But one extremism expert told Insider that the isolated assault is in many ways more dangerous.
    Individuals now feel “empowered to carry out those acts of political violence,” Eric Ward said.

    The violent attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband early Friday morning quickly garnered comparisons to the political violence displayed by a mob of rioters on January 6, 2021, as experts, analysts, and lawmakers condemned the assault.

    But the early-morning, isolated incident at the couple’s San Francisco home this week represents a more ominous crisis than the insurrection ever did, according to one expert on extremism.

    “This is the unfolding of events since January 6,” Eric Ward, senior advisor to the Western States Center, told Insider. “I think it’s just a reminder of where we are as a country.”

    “It’s as predictable as the sun rising again,” he added. 

    Authorities said a 42-year-old man broke into the Pelosi residence early Friday morning and violently attacked Paul Pelosi with a hammer, sending him to the hospital. The speaker was in Washington, DC with her protective detail at the time. Paul Pelosi, 82, is expected to make a full recovery after undergoing surgery to repair a skull fracture from the attack. 

    The suspect, who police alleged beat Paul Pelosi with a hammer in front of cops as they arrived at the home, was searching for the Democratic lawmaker, according to reports. A person briefed on the attack told CNN that the intruder shouted, “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?”

    The description of the alleged attacker’s apparent motives is eerily similar to events that unfolded inside the Capitol on January 6 as a mob of Trump supporters searched for Nancy Pelosi inside the building, issuing threats toward her and other lawmakers. 

    “We know that Nancy Pelosi, as Speaker of the House and third in line for the Presidential succession, was a main target of insurgents on Jan. 6,” Ruth Ben Ghiat, a professor of history and Italian Studies at NYU, told Insider. “The attacker who injured Paul Pelosi was looking for Nancy Pelosi, likely wanting to finish the job of Jan. 6.”

    United States Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul Pelosi, attend a Holy Mass for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul lead by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica in June.

    Early searches of the suspect’s social media history suggest he was a follower of several far-right conspiracy theories and beliefs. 

    “But the attack on Pelosi’s husband is something much more dangerous,” Ward said. “That’s not a coordinated attack like the attack in the Capitol on January 6.”

    “This is individuals shifting the very environment that we live in where people now on their own feel self-actualized and empowered to carry out those acts of political violence and bigotry on their own,” he added.

    There have been numerous isolated incidents against lawmakers in recent months. An armed man was arrested outside of Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s home in July for making alleged threats; police in June arrested an armed man near Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home who made threats against the judge; and earlier this week, police arrested a suspect accused of breaking into the campaign office of Arizona Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs. 

    These would-be radicals no longer need the safety of a large group to act out their anger, Ward argued. “They have the safety of the environment,” he said.

    It’s a cultural shift that is unlikely to improve unless the federal government takes swift, sweeping action, according to Ward.

    “Our government refuses to admit what everyone else sees: That there is a war on American democracy fueled by conspiracies, bigotry, and the promotion of violence,” he said. 

    Read the original article on Business Insider


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