Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) claims that a 71-year-old staffer was “assaulted” by a “mob” of “unruly activists” Tuesday, when a group of protesters showed up to his Huntington Beach office to deliver Valentine’s Day cards.
“These holier-than-thou obstructionists will be held responsible for this outrageous assault. They are exposing themselves for what they are—enemies of American self-government and democracy,” the Republican lawmaker said in a seething statement Wednesday.
The incident comes as Republicans in Congress are increasingly pushing back on the crowds of constituents who’ve showed up en masse to town hall events and district offices, often claiming without evidence that some of those constituents are “paid protesters,” Democrats seeking to generate sensational headlines or people with violent intentions. Some GOPers have said they fear for their own safety or that of their staffers.
Protesters from across the country and from a range of ideological backgrounds who’ve spoken with TPM say they’re turning up with signs and questions for their representatives because they want to have their concerns heard. They also say they’re offended by assumptions that they are “paid” or trying to sow chaos.
In Huntington Beach, a group called Indivisible OC planned to deliver Valentine’s Day cards asking Rohrabacher to hold a town hall to his district office, according to the OC Register.
Hungtington Beach resident Megan Blash told the Register that her 2-year-old daughter was trying to add a card to the pile shoved under the office door, which was locked, when the door opened, hitting her daughter on the head.
The Register reported that one of the activists then tried to pull the door open while Kathleen Staunton, Rohrabacher’s district director, tried to close it, causing the staffer to fall.
Rohrabacher said in his statement that Staunton was later hospitalized after falling unconscious.
KCBS reported that police were called to the office but that no arrests were made. Huntington Beach police did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.
In a statement posted to its Twitter account, Indivisible OC said the incident was just an accident.
“It is a shame that Rep. Rohrabacher has refused repeated requests to hold a town hall meeting for his district and holds a particular contempt for engaged citizens by characterizing civic duty as ‘political thuggery,’” the group said.
— Indivisible OC (@indivisible_oc) February 15, 2017
— princessbuttercup❄️ (@MollyJaneQ) February 15, 2017