Senate Sergeant Karen Gibson said Sunday that political rhetoric is a “key driver” behind the “anger” towards political figures and the increase in threats toward lawmakers in the past year.
In an interview with CNN, Gibson said that threats against lawmakers had increased throughout 2020 and since the Capitol attack on Jan. 6. Gibson ascended to the role after her predecessor, Michael C. Stenger, resigned following the deadly riot.
“I would not say since the insurrection, but certainly in 2020 [threats] began to go up considerably and it has remained heightened for a number of members,” Gibson said. “It is not since January 6, it certainly predated January sixth.”
“I think political rhetoric is a key driver of some of the anger that Americans feel across the political spectrum towards elected officials,” Gibson added, agreeing that such political rhetoric has not faded. “It certainly keeps things interesting and it means that there are continued threats unfortunately against a number of elected officials.” (RELATED: Trump Critics In Congress Have Spent Tens Of Thousands On Private Security Since The Capitol Riot)
While Gibson acknowledged that Americans have the right to express their emotions toward elected officials, she said that their right does not extend to doing so “in a violent way.” (RELATED: Senate Republicans Kill Bipartisan Commission Into Capitol Riot)
“I think what concerns me is a group of Americans that have fallen for some conspiracy theories and just some wacked out ideas that are not based in fact,” Gibson said. “I am concerned about people who just cannot separate fact from fiction.”
Gibson also said that Capitol Police were “far more attuned” to potential attacks following Jan. 6, saying that they “would be ready,” if something similar occurred in the future.
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