Originally Posted: June 14, 2017
Three months before James Hodgkinson picked up a gun and targeted Republican members of a congressional baseball team as they practiced in Alexandria, Virginia, on Wednesday, he signed a petition calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. And before the presidential election, he apparently volunteered for Bernie Sanders’s campaign and called for Hillary Clinton to cede the Democratic nomination to the senator.
Hodgkinson, a former home inspector from Belleville, Illinois, died from injuries he suffered during the shooting, Trump said in a televised statement. Five people who were playing baseball were hospitalized, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. A congressional staffer and two Capitol Police officers also were injured.
Since the election in November, lawmakers and others have claimed that Trump’s rise and rhetoric has “emboldened” people on the right to attack those on the left and commit hate crimes. But conservatives say they are under physical threat too. Because of Hodgkinson’s apparent political leaning, conservative commentators are saying Wednesday’s incident is part of a violent trend by some on the left that does not get as much attention.
U.S. Representative Ron DeSantis told Fox News that before the shooting on Wednesday, a man had asked him whether those playing baseball were Republicans or Democrats. It was not clear if that man was Hodgkinson. The gunman also volunteered for Sanders, The Washington Post reported, citing an acquaintance from St. Louis named Charles Orear. “I met him on the Bernie trail in Iowa, worked with him in the Quad Cities area,” Orear said, referring to an area in Illinois and Iowa.
Records show that Hodgkinson registered as a Democrat in the last three presidential primaries, and that for primaries between 1992 and 2008 he did not register with any party. He voted last November, the records show. He once wrote in a letter to the editor of the Belleville News-Democrat, “We need to vote all Republicans out of Congress.”
“There’s all this violence, and it’s happening on the left,” says Mike Cernovich, a right-wing figure who posts about such incidents on Twitter, “and the media coverage is pretty much nonexistent.” He points to the firebombing of a GOP office in North Carolina last October, aggressive tactics by protesters at Trump rallies and attacks on speakers and faculty members on college campuses.
Even as details about Wednesday’s shooting and the suspect develop, Cernovich says he sees the incident as a continuation of such left-on-right violence, given that the suspect apparently targeted Republicans. “This is exactly what happens when you normalize political violence,” he says, citing comedian Kathy Griffin’s photo with a fake severed head resembling Trump’s and a production of Julius Caesar that depicts the assassination of a character who resembles Trump.
“The media needs to cover the violence that’s happening on the left with the same level of scrutiny and vigor that they cover the supposed violence and rhetoric of Trump and Trump supporters,” he says.
Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House and a Trump ally, told Fox News that Wednesday’s shooting belongs to a pattern of “an increasing intensity of hostility on the left.” Far-right outlet Infowars called the shooter a “leftist gunman” and the shooting a “media-inspired terror attack.” Tomi Lahren, another conservative figure, tweeted, “How long till the Left blames guns? If Dems were targeted it would all be about ‘Trump’s mean rhetoric.’ Double standard party at work.” READ MORE