GOP Rep Clay Higgins filmed shoving activist who questioned Lauren Boebert’s divorce
Republican Congressman Clay Higgins yanked and shoved an activist who he claimed was mentally disturbed during a press conference outside the US Capitol.
Jake Burdett, an activist with leftist political views, was filming and asking questions of the GOP lawmakers present when a man in a suit approached him. The moment, which is captured in Mr Burdett's footage, shows the man in the suit — Mr Higgins — walking up, introducing himself, and telling the activist to back off and that he will answer his questions after the conference.
“All I’m asking you to do is just peacefully stand by with your camera and I promise you—look at me—I’ll come talk to you straight up and answer all your questions. Fair enough?” Mr Higgins asks.
Mr Burdett stood back, but zeroed in on the lawmakers again when Congresswoman Laura Boebert began to speak. The activist began to ask questions about her recently announced divorce but was intercepted by Mr Higgins.
Footage capturing the moment shows Mr Higgins grabbing the activist and shoving him several feet away from the press conference.
“Uh-uh. Uh-uh. No. You’re out. You’re out," Mr Higgins can be heard saying in the footage.
Mr Burdett can be heard protesting Mr Higgins’s interference, asking: “Aren't you a congressperson, touching me?” He then demanded that he “get off” and said that the lawmaker was hurting him.
Mr Higgins continued to grapple Mr Burdett until DC Metropolitan police intervened and split the men up.
I am currently being detained by DC Police for asking tough questions to far right extremist Congressmen @RepGosar and @laurenboebert at a press conference. Rep Clay Higgins proceeded to assault/physically remove me from the press conference.For this, the cops detained me,not him pic.twitter.com/iX4yjCGKsZ
— Jake Burdett (@jake_burdett) May 17, 2023
Mr Burdett was questioned by DC police and was later allowed to leave.
He spoke about the experience with The Daily Beast, saying he felt “scared, intimidated, powerless, [and] defenceless”.
Mr Burdett said he felt as though he could do nothing to defend himself since Mr Higgins is a member of Congress.
“Like, who do I think the cops are going to crack down on, me, or the congressperson?” he said.
He believes the incident was an example of a lawmaker thinking of themselves as “untouchable” because of their position.
“It’s one thing for anybody to do that,” he said of Higgins’ behaviour. “But for a sitting US congressperson to think that that’s OK—it just shows an extra level of entitlement, that they feel they’re untouchable and the law doesn’t apply to them.”
CHARGE U.S. REP. CLAY HIGGINS WITH ASSAULT AND BATTERY - Sign the Petition! https://t.co/k8TeQdbT5v via @Change
— Reese Erick Forbes (@WiseLionMan) May 18, 2023
The footage was shared widely on social media, sparking a Change.org petition for the arrest of Mr Higgins.
The Independent has reached out to Mr Higgins and Mr Burdett for comment.
Mr Higgins responded to the incident in a video response posted to Twitter.
Activist was a 103M. Threatening. He was escorted out and turned over to Capitol Police. Textbook. pic.twitter.com/n2GXaJTspJ
— Rep. Clay Higgins (@RepClayHiggins) May 18, 2023
Mr Higgins offered a comment to KATC, and said Mr Burdett "was a 103M," which is a police code referring to mentally disturbed individuals. The statement goes on to accuse Mr Burdett of being “threatening”.
Mr Burdett told The Daily Beast he was in Washington to attend a Medicare for All rally featuring Senator Bernie Sanders. After that rally, he spotted the Republican press conference setting up in the same spot. He decided to stay and "ask them some tough questions."
He said that after the incident he is weighing his options and strongly considering making assault charges against the congressman.
“I’m absolutely evaluating my options here, and if it looks like there is a strong case for assault and [there is] an attorney willing to take on the case, I am absolutely prepared to press charges,” he said.