Data shows threats against lawmakers intensifying, more than doubled since 2017

Zach Fuentes Image
Saturday, October 29, 2022
Data shows threats against lawmakers intensifying
Data from the U.S. Capitol Police Threat Assessment Team shows that threats against lawmakers have more than doubled since 2017.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The attack on Paul Pelosi comes on the heels of a rise in attacks and threats against political leaders.

Happening the same day of Pelosi's attack, the Department of Justice announced a Pennsylvania man has pled guilty to sending threatening voicemails to Congressman Eric Swalwell.

In a Tweet responding to that announcement, the congressman said in part, "MAGA political violence is at peak level in America, somebody is going to get killed, I urge GOP leaders to denounce the violence."

Politicians on both sides of the aisle have faced an uptick in threats and violence against them.

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Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco house was broken into and her husband, Paul Pelosi, was violently attacked by a hammer-wielding suspect.

Though opinions may differ between parties as to what's led to the growing threat, it is in fact growing, data from the U.S. Capitol Police Threat Assessment Team shows that threats against lawmakers have more than doubled since 2017.

Their data listed below shows the cases they say were of threats and concerning statements:

  • 3,939 in 2017
  • 5,206 in 2018
  • 6,955 in 2019
  • 8,613 in 2020
  • 9,625 in 2021

So far in 2022, only data through March 23 has been released. The count between Jan.1 to March 23 is 1,820.

The Friday attack against Paul Pelosi highlighted the troubling trend.

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"This attack on Speaker Pelosi's husband is shocking, but perhaps not surprising in light of the escalating political polarization and really divisive and violent rhetoric we've seen over the last few years," said Melinda Jackson, a political science professor at San Jose State University.

Jackson says the tone of the conversations and the growing threats shouldn't be taken lightly.

"It really I think, is a warning sign for our democracy that we're seeing, perhaps, people whose political disagreements are now crossing a line into real-life violence," Jackson said.

So far the Pelosi attack has brought agreement among many representatives from both political parties that the violence has to stop.

Republican Adam Kinzinger tweeted out, saying in part "This must be condemned by every member of congress and candidate."

Ted Cruz also tweeted out a statement that said in part, "We can have our political differences but violence is always wrong and unacceptable."

Back at San Jose State, Jackson adds: "We really want to make our democratic process as peaceful as possible and to have people expressing those disagreements through their votes and through their words, rather than violence."

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