A far-right congressional candidate in Orange County, California called on his supporters to “Confront Katie Porter” in an Instagram post that featured the walk-up music of a pro wrestler.
And on Sunday, candidate Nick Taurus did just that, leading a crew of supporters loudly heckling the Democratic California congresswoman at the start of an outdoor town hall event at a park in Irvine. The confrontation then escalated into a brief scuffle, the details of which remain unclear.
The fighting was over within a few minutes. Karie Davies, a spokesperson for the Irvine Police Department, told TPM “this is an active investigation.”
“What I can tell you is there were opposing views and it got heated,” Davies said. “One party pushed the other and it escalated to punches being thrown. One person was arrested for assault and battery and was released from the scene with a citation.”
“According to the report, someone on the opposition was pushed by a supporter and that caused pushing back and forth,” she added.
Davies initially told TPM that a supporter of Porter’s had punched somebody who opposed her in the face, causing a bloody nose. But later, she said “it is unknown if the person punched in the face was a supporter or an opponent.”
“Our officers were there for the event and were able to get control pretty quickly,” Davies said.
A reporter from the Los Angeles Times who was present at the rally, Seema Mehta, reported afterward that she could not tell who threw the first punch, but that “it wasn’t a bench-clearing brawl.” Limited video from part of the scuffle showed some pushing and shoving before police broke things up.
“A few [Porter supporters] confronted protesters, resulting in punches being thrown and men falling to the ground,” the Times reported. “Porter rushed to the scuffle, wrapping her arms around an elderly woman near the scrum.”
Though Taurus later denied that he intended for his protest to get violent, Porter said in a statement that he had created “unsafe conditions.”
“It is disappointing that a small but vocal group of attendees, who advertised a ‘confrontation rally,’ created unsafe conditions at a planned family-friendly event,” Porter said. “While I absolutely respect their right to disagree, their disturbance disrespected all the families who attended and were ready to engage in a thoughtful, civil, and safe way.”
‘Confront Katie Porter’
In an Instagram post calling his supporters to the event — featuring the walk-up music of Kurt Angle, the former WWE star — Taurus wrote, “Please join the Taurus Campaign this Sunday (07/11/21) at 2:30PM to demand AMERICA BE PUT FIRST and send Carpetbagger Katie back to the Iowa farm she came from!”
But that wasn’t all — in comments under the post, he tagged several accounts connected to Nick Fuentes, the far-right influencer who, among other things, has said of the Jim Crow South: “It was better for them, it’s better for us.”
Taurus hasn’t hidden his own extreme views, posting pictures with Fuents and calling on his website for a 25-year immigration moratorium, a “nationwide ban” on critical race theory (which he calls “anti-White Racism”) and “LGBT ideology” in schools and private businesses, the “release and pardon of all 1/6 Patriots,” and federal charges against Black Lives Matter and anti-fascist groups.
One of the Instagram accounts Taurus tagged in his call for supporters to show up at the Katie Porter event, AFU.Arizona, once referred to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey as a “traitor to our religion” above a picture of Ducey at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Last month, the same account reposted a tweet from Fuentes calling for “pro-White solidarity.”
“No longer will AMERICANS bow to the billionaires, anti-White extremists and the GAY mafia,” Taurus said when announcing his candidacy in June.
‘Make These People Squirm’
In a video posted to Instagram after the event, Taurus blamed Porter’s supporters for introducing violence — but he also acknowledged, “we started, basically, heckling and hassling her” after learning the congresswoman might not answer questions he and his supporters had submitted ahead of time. (Porter’s statement noted, “At our town halls, we take steps, such as putting all questions into a bingo ball spinner, so that we hear all voices, not just the loudest ones.”)
“We have to make these people squirm, we have to make them feel uncomfortable,” Taurus added later in the video.
Notably, Taurus implied in the video that the local Republican Party had been involved in the stunt.
“We were instructed to do this — or not instructed, I guess I took the impetus myself to go form this event — but the OC GOP, or someone in a local GOP chapter, went out and sent an invitation for us to go and ask questions and kind of go out and press her a bit regarding everything she’s doing in the 45th district,” Taurus said.
He said separately, “We decided to go down after being prompted by the local GOP and to kind of make our voices heard.”
Neither Taurus nor the Orange County GOP responded to TPM’s requests for comment.
“The Taurus Campaign is ready to wage war on the globalists,” the Republican candidate wrote on Instagram.
This post has been updated.