WASHINGTON — Democratic Rep. Katie Porter said “everyone lost” after a group of political critics disrupted her town hall in California on Sunday, resulting in the arrest of a 51-year-old man.
“They began to shout and eventually violence broke out,” Porter said Monday night on MSNBC. “It was really disappointing and scary, especially for families and seniors and others who were there, and I think we need to hear from every elected official regardless of party that this is not democracy.”
Members of Congress are approaching an extended recess in August, a time traditionally used by lawmakers to meet with constituents and hold town halls. After the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, lawmakers have expressed increased concern about safety in their districts.
“It’s incredibly disappointing to have it happen here,” Porter said on Monday. “After Jan. 6, it’s hard to feel safe in Washington right now and now it’s hard to feel safe in Irvine.”
The House appropriated funds to bolster the Capitol Police, who are tasked with coordinating security for lawmakers while they are outside of Washington, but the bill has stalled in the Senate.
Irvine Police said in a statement that officers were at the event and arrested Julian Willis of La Jolla, Calif.
“There were opposing opinions at the town hall. It got heated and punches were thrown. One man received a bloody nose. The suspect was arrested, given a citation and released from the scene,” Irvine Police said.
Porter said the event was held in an outdoor area that allowed people to remain spread out but also allowed the protesters to disrupt the event.
“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,” she said in the statement.
Nick Taurus, who’s running against Porter in the 2022 midterm election, posted on his Instagram account several days before the town hall urging his supporters to join his campaign in confronting Porter. Taurus told his followers to appear at the town hall event held at the Mike Ward Community Park.
“Katie Porter is a far-left ideologue supported by Bay Area academics, the billionaire class and foreign lobbies! Her America Last policies are awful for the 45th district and we intend to voice our displeasure!” he wrote, telling his supporters to “to demand AMERICA BE PUT FIRST and send Carpetbagger Katie back to the Iowa farm she came from! TOGETHER WE WILL DEFEAT THE GLOBALISTS!
The scuffle Sunday broke out when Taurus’ backers shouted “Carpetbagger Katie!” and “Corrupt Katie Porter” and the congresswoman’s supporters tried to drown them out by chanting, “Katie! Katie! Katie!” or screaming, “Shut up!” the L.A. Times reported. Punches were then thrown and men fell to the ground, the report said.
Taurus describes himself on his campaign website as “an American nationalist and Roman Catholic who is most concerned with addressing the issues surrounding immigration, vaccination and Critical Race Theory.”