HomeLearning CenterNancy Pelosi Was a Target of Misogyny and Threats. That Turned Into Violence

Nancy Pelosi Was a Target of Misogyny and Threats. That Turned Into Violence

The attack at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home this week underscored the potential for violence from the escalating threats and misogyny directed at the California Democrat in recent years.

Threats against members of Congress have been on the rise, according to data from the US Capitol Police. But the hundreds of criminal prosecutions stemming from the Jan. 6 attack as lawmakers met to certify President Joe Biden’s election win offered a new perspective on the depth of hostility and threatening rhetoric specifically directed at Pelosi.

Police who responded to Pelosi’s home early Friday found her husband, Paul Pelosi, 82, in a struggle with an intruder, according to San Francisco Police Chief William Scott. Police said the suspect, David DePape, 42, of Berkeley, California, struck Paul Pelosi in the head and body before being subdued and will face charges of attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon and elder abuse.

Scott told reporters a motive was under investigation, but a person familiar with the investigation said that the intruder had shouted “Where is Nancy, where is Nancy?” before attacking her husband. Using the research site DomainTools.com, Bloomberg News found several websites registered to a David DePape that railed against the government and technology giants, and espoused far-right conspiracy theories. Blog posts took aim at immigrants, “climate hysteria” and feminists, among other targets.

Elected officials who serve as the public faces of their political parties unsurprisingly tend to bear the brunt of criticism — and, sometimes, threats — from their opponents. A November 2020 report from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace identified an “overwhelming amount of online abuse, harassment, and gendered defamation” that women in politics face at higher rates compared to their male counterparts.


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