SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Recent events have focused attention again on the safety of our elected officials in the face of increasing violence against them. Three members of Congress spoke to ABC7 News about their thoughts and their fears on the state of our democracy.
"The incidents of hate has increased 900% in threats to lives of members of Congress in the last four years. Think about that," Congressman Jim Costa said.
Congressman Costa was part of a panel meeting in Oakland on supply chain issues. But also on everyone's mind - their safety.
"I drove myself here, I suspect other members drove themselves or staff took them but we don't have full-time protection or even part-time protection at all unless there's a very specific threat," Congressman John Garamendi said.
"I don't think it's appropriate to talk about all of the security issues and details for obvious reasons, but this is an environment where there's so much hatred," Congressional Representative Barbara Lee said.
The legislators all say those who report being most threatened do get extra protection from the Capitol Police. This summer, $10,000 was allocated to each member of Congress for additional home security like cameras, sensors and door locks.
"That $10,000 stipend for home security is helpful but it's not like I'm going to go to sleep better night because of it," Costa said.
What keeps these representatives up at night is fears of repercussions for others in the public eye, and even for those like city clerks and workers at polling places.
"Obviously if someone wants to do something there's not much I can do, except put my faith and trust in the people I represent and explain to Americans the better angels in us require us to turn down the rhetoric," Costa added.
"What the public can do is push back on this hateful environment and not stand for it, and voice their opposition to what's taking place in our country that's very dangerous," Lee said.
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