Political leaders from both parties have condemned Friday’s attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, the latest in a series of incidents affecting members of Congress and their families this year.
Although the perpetrator’s motive is still under investigation, several lawmakers have blamed hyperpartisanship and divisive political rhetoric for an increase in political violence and security incidents in recent years. These factors also contributed to the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.
Capitol police have seen a steady increase in threats, which have more than doubled each year, from 3,939 in 2017 to 9,625 last year.
Through March 23 of this year, Capitol Police said they had opened about 1,820 files, including statements and threats.
“The politics of hate, division and fear have consequences and have resulted in targeted attacks on elected officials and their families,” Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-San Pedro) tweeted Friday. “We cannot and must not tolerate it.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) was threatened by a gunman outside her home in July. The chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus released a Extract of 75 seconds threats she received by voicemail last month.
“Generally, political figures do not show their vulnerability,” she wrote at the time. “I chose to do it here because we cannot accept violence as our new normal.”
Two days later, Rep. Karen Bass’s (D-Los Angeles) mayoral campaign announced that the congresswoman’s home “had been broken into and broken into.” She said two firearms that were “stored securely” were stolen.
New York gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin (RN.Y.) was attacked at a campaign event near Rochester in July.
This week, Rep. Mondaire Jones (DN.Y.) blamed rising political violence on conservatives “and predicted it will only increase in the months and years to come.”
Such violence, he tweeted, largely targets women and people of color “and has been generalized by” some members of the Republican Party.
The Times reported last year that Capitol Police are rethinking ways to protect members inside and outside Washington, working more closely with the FBI and opening satellite offices outside Washington to the first time. According to CNN, Capitol Police are currently evaluating more security options to protect the families of congressional leaders.
Following Friday’s attack, President Biden condemned all violence in a statement attributed to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who said the president called Pelosi (D-San Francisco ) Friday morning and prayed for her husband and their family.
“What happened to Paul Pelosi was a despicable act,” Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) said in a statement.
His Republican counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), tweeted that he was “horrified and disgusted.”
Pelosi’s husband “was the victim of a brutal and deliberate attack in his home,” said Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.). “Violence is never acceptable.”
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who was the victim of a shooting at Republicans’ congressional baseball practice in 2017, said he was “disgusted to hear about the horrific assault “.
“Let’s be clear: violence has no place in this country,” he tweeted.
According to the Associated Press, the assailant had a hammer and shouted, “Where’s Nancy?” inside the house, suggesting that the House Democratic leader, who is second in line for the presidential succession, has been targeted.
Pelosi was in Washington with his guards at the time of the break-in, authorities said.
The United States Capitol Police are working with the FBI and the San Francisco Police Department on a joint investigation.
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.