Armed with votive candles and megaphones, a small band of activists protested last night outside of Sen. Josh Hawley's home in Virginia.
Hawley responded on Twitter, calling them "Antifa scumbags" and describing a terrifying scene — one contradicted by a 50-minute video of the nonviolent demonstration.
"Tonight while I was in Missouri, Antifa scumbags came to our place in DC and threatened my wife and newborn daughter, who can't travel," Hawley tweeted. "They screamed threats, vandalized, and tried to pound open our door. Let me be clear: My family & I will not be intimidated by leftwing violence."
Activists in protest movements have debated the tactic of visiting the homes of politicians, but the video shows a low-heat action with no "leftwing violence" or threats — unless promising to return can be considered a threat. If there was any vandalism, it wasn't evident in the livestream and police who responded didn't seem to take any notice.
Hawley and his wife Erin moved their family to the Washington D.C. suburb of Vienna, Virginia, after he was elected to the U.S. Senate. A Kansas City Star investigation revealed he no longer has a house in Missouri and used his sister's address to vote in the last election. In response to the story, Hawley claimed he was building a house in Ozark.
As a senator, Hawley has staked out a series of headline-seeking positions. His latest move, announcing he would object on Wednesday when Congress is scheduled to certify the results of the presidential election, is what brought demonstrators to his door.
There is little chance Hawley and a small group of senators will succeed in overturning the election, and even far-right Republicans such as Rep. Ann Wagner, have said that doing so would violate the U.S. Constitution. But it has played well with President Donald Trump who has continued to push a series of debunked conspiracy theories in an attempt to take an election he lost.
One of the complaints from demonstrators who visited Hawley's house is that the ongoing attempt to undercut the election process, even as dozens of court decisions as well as recounts have confirmed the results, has emboldened violent supporters. They referenced a far-right rally scheduled for Wednesday in Washington D.C. that has already been drawing members of the Proud Boys, an extremist group known for violence, to the nation's capitol.
On Monday, the group's leader Enrique Tarrio was arrested after arriving D.C. for destruction of property for a previous incident in which admitted taking a Black Lives Matter banner from a historically Black church and burning it, USA Today reported. Tarrio, a felon, was in possession of a pair of high-capacity firearms magazines when he was arrested and faces additional charges related to those.
Demonstrators said Hawley's moves to challenge the election results encouraged the rally and put people in danger.
"Because of what Sen. Hawley did, because of the irresponsible, self-serving decisions he made, some real violent people are coming to Washington, D.C.," one of the protesters said. "Some real violent people are already here in Washington, D.C. And I’m not just talking about the Proud Boys; I’m talking about the Republican delegation to the United States Senate and the Republican delegation to the United States House of Representatives."
A video of the nonviolent demonstration in Vienna showed a dozen protesters meeting in a parking lot and then walking to the Hawley home while they worked on some chants. The chants included such blood-curdling cries as "Hawley, Hawley, shame on you! Biden-Harris won through and through!" There was also, "Due diligence has been done, Biden-Harris haaave won!"
Another four or five protesters joined the group on their walk as they made their way to the house. After arriving, they chanted from the sidewalk and street in front of Hawley's house. Erin Hawley, holding a baby, came to the door shortly after the group arrived and asked them to leave.
"Excuse me, could you clear out please," she says. "We have neighbors and a baby."
At one point, four people from the group went to the door, apparently to leave a copy of the U.S. Constitution for Hawley to read. An old man shouted at protesters that they were "disturbing our neighborhood and scaring our children." A police officer asked the group if they would be willing to be quieter until her supervisor could get there. That seemed to be the extent of the confrontations.
This morning, Hawley continued to rail against the protesters on Twitter, calling them "scum" and repeating claims that they vandalized property and "terrorized" their Virginia neighbors.
"And you didn't have the guts to do it in daylight, but only under the cover of darkness so you could hide," Hawley tweeted. "You're scum. And we won't be intimidated."
The group, ShutDownDC, responded on Twitter:
"It was a candlelight vigil, snowflake. And your house isn't in DC, it's in a suburb 30 minutes outside of the District. You're supposed to be representing Missouri in the senate."
It was a candlelight vigil, snowflake. And your house isn’t in DC, it’s in a suburb 30 mins outside of the District. You’re supposed to be representing Missouri in the senate. Why did you move your primary residence to the Virginia suburbs. https://t.co/nMOwj3Z6kU— ShutDownDC (@ShutDown_DC) January 5, 2021
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