Former U.S. Capitol police officer Michael Fanone said political violence in the U.S. has become “normalized” and will likely escalate in the future, delivering a stark warning after the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was violently attacked in his home last week.
Fanone, who was injured while defending the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the federal building, wrote in an opinion piece on CNN there is no longer “universal condemnation of violence by our leaders,” noting the Republicans who joked about the attack on Paul Pelosi.
“The 82-year-old husband of the woman who is third in line to the US presidency was beaten in his own home for political reasons and right-wing media and some Republicans reveled in the attack,” wrote Fanone, who is now a law enforcement analyst for CNN. “I’d like to believe that the violent attack on Paul Pelosi will be a turning point, but somehow I doubt it. I’m afraid that politically-inspired violence is only going to escalate. It’s already normalized.”
David DePape broke into the Pelosi home in San Francisco, Calif., in the early morning hours last Friday, allegedly searching for Nancy Pelosi.
DePape faces state and federal charges after he allegedly struck Paul Pelosi on the head with a hammer. Paul Pelosi underwent a successful surgery for a skull fracture.
Some conservative leaders, including Donald Trump Jr. and Arizona gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake, made light of the attack while others raised conspiracy theories about the deadly assault.
Democrats have linked the Pelosi attack to the Jan. 6 rioting, when pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a bid to overturn certification of the 2020 election.
The rioters had chanted for Nancy Pelosi and even broke into her office, while one Jan. 6 defendant admitted to wanting to shoot her and another wanted to drag her out of the Capitol.
Days after the rioting, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes expressed a desire to hang the Speaker.
Other recents threats against lawmakers, including those made against Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) in August, have raised concerns about an apparent rise of political violence.
Fanone also pointed to armed vigilantes who have intimidated voters at ballot boxes as another deeply concerning mark of political violence.
The former Capitol officer said he has talked with other U.S. Capitol officers about why Americans are so indifferent about what happened on Jan. 6, arguing a large share of Americans don’t care enough about what’s happening.
Fanone said indifference is the “biggest threat to democracy” and could lead to “our downfall as a nation,” urging Americans to vote to save democracy at the polls.
“Americans need to understand why this election is so different: It is our first chance since January 6 to reject fascism,” Fanone wrote. “And it’s perhaps our last chance to preserve democracy.”