WASHINGTON—Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.), a former Louisiana sheriff, physically removed a protester who crossed into a Republican news conference on May 17 and approached Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) in a way Higgins described as “threatening.”
The news conference, during which Higgins, Boebert, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), and others expressed their opposition to ongoing treaty negotiations with the World Health Organization, was interrupted when a left-wing protester began heckling members of Congress.
After the protester crossed into the news conference, Higgins removed him.
The conference was in the House Triangle, one of the most popular news conference locations on Capitol Hill. The protester had remained after a previous left-wing event calling for Medicare-for-All.
Wearing a shirt that read “Revolution” on the front and had Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) 2020 campaign slogan, “Not me, us,” on the back, the protester apparently became interested in the event when he noticed Boebert.
When Gosar came to the podium to speak, the protester began heckling Gosar, asking him about an event he hosted with controversial right-wing internet personalities.
A video Higgins posted to Twitter shows that at that point, Higgins and Norman came over to defuse the situation.
After the protester accused the Republicans of refusing to answer questions, Higgins replied, “I’ll answer your questions.”
“Listen, I respect you as a person,” Higgins said. “All I’m asking you to do is, as a person, only stand by with your camera, and I promise you … I’ll come over straight [after] and I’ll answer all your questions.”
Other Republicans looked perturbed by the distraction, but none commented on the protester.
However, when Boebert took the stand, the protester began hurling questions at the congresswoman about her reported divorce. After Boebert paused due to the heckling, Norman encouraged her to ignore the distraction and continue.
Aides again closed in on the protester, this time prepared to remove him from the House Triangle. One asked him to exit the perimeter.
The protester then broke free of the aides and cut across the House Triangle, running directly into the crowd of House Republicans and toward Boebert in a manner Higgins described as “threatening.” Boebert seemed unaware of what was going on behind her until the protester had gotten close.
Higgins then lifted the protester off the ground and said, “Nope. Naw, you’re out.”
“Aren’t you a congressperson?” the protester asked as Higgins carried him out of the House Triangle.
“Yes sir,” Higgins responded.
Other left-wing protesters from the previous event immediately began recording the incident, with one shouting, “Get this on video.”
“This is assault!” cried another.
Following the event, the protester was escorted about 100 feet away, under the watch of three U.S. Capitol Police officers.
Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.), who participated in the news conference, afterward went to Capitol Police officers to provide her testimony.
In the video of the incident he posted to Twitter, Higgins referenced his law enforcement background, using police vernacular to describe the incident.
“Activist was a 103M,” Higgins said, police code for a criminal disturbance by a mentally unwell person. “Threatening. He was escorted out and turned over to Capitol Police.
“Textbook,” he added.
In the video, Higgins described the incident, saying, “One agitator activist became very disruptive and threatening, in violation of the law. It’s unknown why Capitol Police were not stationed at the press conference.”
The conference featured about a dozen GOP members of Congress. The Capitol Police came over from nearby stations after witnessing the disturbance. However, none of the officers were posted in the immediate area of the news conference.
It is unclear whether the Capitol Police is pursuing a criminal investigation into the matter. They did not return a comment by press time.
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