Republicans have been casually advocating violence against people who protest in roads for months, with tragic consequences.
Listening to Republican rhetoric, protestors are a dangerous menace who must be removed by violence if necessary.
And people are heeding that rhetoric, with horrifying results.
On Thursday night in Orange County, California, a driver plowed into a group of protestors who had gathered on the street outside Republican Rep. Ed Royce’s office to protest Donald Trump’s rescission of DACA work permits to young immigrants. Police had been trying to clear the street peacefully and let traffic through, but the driver, 56-year-old Daniel Wenzek, clearly decided the protestors had no right to safety.
Wenzek was taken into custody and no one was injured in the attack. Unfortunately, not everyone has been so lucky, like Heather Heyer, who was fatally run down by a neo-Nazi while protesting the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.
This culture of casual vehicular assault and murder follows after months of dangerous incitement from GOP officials — and of course the violent rhetoric from Trump, who infamously urged his supporters to “knock the crap” out of hecklers during the campaign.
In March, Daily Caller editor Kathy Frates speculated in a tweet, “I wonder how many” Native American pipeline protestors “I can run over.” Meanwhile, Republican state legislators in Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Tennessee have proposed various bills criminalizing road protest or even legalizing vehicular violence against such protestors — which the ACLU has dubbed “hit and kill” bills.
Such behavior from elected officials sends a dark message about what is socially acceptable. There is always a faction of dangerous people in society who are willing take matters into their own hands. Lawmakers should not be encouraging such people to see more threats — let alone suggesting cars as a means to eliminate them.