U.S. Representative Clay Higgins grabbed a man asking questions at a press conference on Wednesday and repeatedly told him, “You’re out” as he pushed him away from the event, prompting calls for assault charges against the Republican congressman.
Jake Burdett, a progressive activist, traveled to Capitol Hill to attend a press conference regarding Medicare for All legislation that was unveiled on Wednesday, and noticed that Higgins was gearing up for an event. separate news with Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) and Lauren. Boebert (R-Col.).
“I figured I’d ask them some tough questions,” Burdett said.The Daily Beast. “Bird-dogs-them, whatever you want to call it.”
He started filming the press conference and was asking Gosar questions when Higgins approached him. The congressman first asked Burdett to “stand still with your camera” and wait out the event, after which Higgins promised to answer his questions.
When Burdett started to ask Boebert another question, Higgins again approached Burdett and said, ‘No, you’re out’ and he grabbed the 25-year-old’s arms and began to force him away of the event.
Kristy Fogle, founder of the Maryland Progressive Healthcare Coalition, filmed the attack and posted it to Twitter, asking, “Is pushing an activist to ask tough questions supposed to be normal?
“We’re political activists from Maryland. It’s not uncommon for us to come to DC and try to ask hard questions of Republicans AND Democrats,” said Fog. “But, I’ve never seen a rep behave so aggressively.”
As Higgins pushed him through the roughly 30-second altercation, Burdett said, “Aren’t you a congressman, touching me? Let me go!” while others in the crowd exclaimed, “This is an assault!”
Capitol Police arrived at the scene shortly after Higgins pushed Burdett to the street. They questioned Burdett for about half an hour, then said he was free to go.
Higgins saidKATCA ABC affiliate in Lafayette, Louisiana, that Burdett caused a “103M”, using the Capitol Police code for “disorder by a mental person”, and said the activist was simply “escorted and handed over to the Capitol Police”.
Critics who viewed the video said Higgins’ use of physical force to remove Burdett from the event was “absurd” and should lead to charges for the congressman.
“Republican Congressman Clay Higgins assaults a citizen who dared to ask him a question” said Kaivan Shroff, lawyer and political commentator. “Barely makes the news. Insane.”
Burdett said The daily beast the incident did not harm him physically, but left him “scared, intimidated, helpless, [and] defenseless,” and wondering, “Who do I think the cops are going to crack down on: me, or the congressman?
“It’s one thing for anyone to do that,” he said. “But for a sitting US congressman to think it’s no big deal, it just shows an extra layer of entitlement, that he feels untouchable and the law doesn’t apply to him.”
Fogle added that an assault on a citizen by a progressive or Democratic member of Congress would likely be strongly condemned by conservatives and would not go unpunished.
Burdett said The daily beast he was “evaluating” his legal options.
“If there appears to be a solid case of assault and [there is] a lawyer willing to take on the case,” he said, “I’m fully prepared to file a complaint.”
Higgins drew condemnation from Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) and Jamaal Bowman (DN.Y.) last year when he yelled at an expert witness during a hearing of the oversight committee of the Chamber of Environmental Injustice, addressing Raya Salter, the founder and executive director of the Energy Justice Law and Policy Center, as “boo” and “young lady.”
In 2020, Higgins threatened to shoot Black Lives Matters protesters in a Facebook post which he later deleted.
Republished from Common Dreams (Julia Conley, editor) under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
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