Democratic politicians have stepped up their warnings about the threat of political violence in America after a man on Friday beat the 82-year-old husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to death with a hammer at their California home.
The serious warnings stem from a long-standing concern that the security services provided are not adequately reflecting the ongoing threats, especially with midterm elections looming.
“Someone is dying,” Debbie Dingell, a Democratic congressman from Michigan, told the UKTN news website. Dingell said in 2020, after UKTN News’ Tucker Carlson aired an excerpt about her, “I had men outside my house with assault weapons that night.”
Mike Quigley, a Democratic congressman from Illinois, similarly told UKTN that the vicious attack “confirms what members know: We are completely vulnerable at a time when risks are mounting.” Quigley also said, “We need more ways to protect members and their families.”
Indeed, the attack on Paul Pelosi appeared to be aimed at Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden said Saturday. Authorities said the attacker asked, “Where is Nancy?”; the veteran congresswoman was in Washington DC with her security detail when the attack occurred.
On the day of the attack, a joint US intelligence bulletin warned that there was a “heightened threat” to the midterms, fueled by a rise in domestic violent extremism, or DVE, and driven by ideological grievances and access to potential targets,” according to UKTN’s Nicole Sganga.
The man charged in the attack, David DePape, may have expressed his political anger — which was largely reflective of far-right points — in recent online posts. An internet user with the handle “daviddepape” expressed support for former US President Donald Trump and appeared to believe in the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Insurgents raided and destroyed Pelosi’s office during the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by extreme Trump supporters. The rioters were inspired by the then president and attacked law enforcement officers in an attempt to undo Biden’s victory.
Some Capitol rioters sought out Pelosi and called out her name; she escaped with other politicians and then led efforts to secure the Capitol so Congress could confirm Biden’s victory.
The New York City Police Department warned on Thursday that extremists could target politicians, polling stations and political events ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. Threats have increased dramatically in recent years, with United States Capitol Police reporting that they investigated 9,625 threats against lawmakers in 2021 – an increase of about threefold from 2017.
“I’m an ordinary man who served on a Mueller investigation and received death threats,” Kelly Armstrong, a Republican representative from North Dakota, told UKTN. “I think everyone should take it seriously.”
Steps have been taken to address mounting threats against members of Congress, such as the House Sergeant at Arms announcement in July that all US representatives will receive a $10,000 security allowance, but these measures have been criticized as inadequate. Pramila Jayapal, a Democratic congressman from Washington, said this summer the allotment would not cover the recommended security measures for her home, according to UKTN.
Legislative solutions to security concerns have also been advocated, but attitudes towards these concerns could stagnate along party lines. Mike Sherrill, a New Jersey Democratic legislator, has introduced a bill that would allow judges to protect their personal information following a 2020 New Jersey shooting that killed a judge’s son and injured her husband.
However, should the Republicans win a majority in Congress, the security of the Capitol will change; Republican House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has criticized the placement of metal detectors outside the House room after the Jan. 6 attack. McCarthy has hinted that he would remove them if he was in charge, UKTN noted.