The Attack on Paul Pelosi: The Latest Installment in a Trend of Political Violence



Nathan Hubert, Staff Writer

On Friday, October 28th, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco Home was broken into by assailant, Paul DePape, who screamed for Pelosi before attacking her husband, Paul Pelosi, with a hammer. Pelosi had to undergo surgery to fix his skull fracture. He also sustained severe arm injuries, and was discharged from the hospital on November 3rd. DePape circulated false claims relating to the QAnon conspiracy theory and the 2020 election before the assault. According to reports, DePape planned to kidnap her. He would then break her kneecaps if she did not denounce her views to warn other like-minded politicians of the “consequences of their actions.” DePape was charged with attempted homicide, burglary, and assault for this incident.

Many democrats immediately denounced the attack. Congressional democrats and democratic governors across the nation rushed to the Pelosi family’s defense and warded off remarks from right-wing politicians. “This is despicable. There’s no place in America. There’s too much violence, political violence, too much hatred, too much vitriol,” President Joe Biden declared during a speech in Pennsylvania. He expressed his concerns about the rapid spread of political violence and extremism in the country. Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to reporters about unprecedented levels of hate and division in the United States.

“There was a time when we appreciated and understood the importance to a democracy of vigorous debate, where we appreciated that it is the diversity of opinions that will lead us to progress to smart decisions,” Harris said. “But something has been happening in our country where powerful people, so-called leaders, have been using the bully pulpit that they were given by the people in a way that is about the preservation of their personal power and is being used to divide our country,” she reiterated at a campaign speech in Maryland.

On the contrary, republicans sent mixed signals on the attack. Republican leaders, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, denounced the violence soon after news broke. However, others took this opportunity to make fun of the Pelosi family or to disseminate rumors. “There’s no room for violence anywhere, but we’re gonna send Nancy Pelosi to be back with him in California,” Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin told a crowd at a rally for a republican candidate for Congress. This statement, seen by opponents as insensitive, prompted widespread outrage and many calls for him to resign. He has since written Pelosi a letter to apologize for his previous statements. Republican senator Ted Cruz of Texas denied that his ideology incited this attack and shared a meme downplaying the assault. Elon Musk, now the owner of Twitter, joined far-right politicians in spreading conspiracy theories about Paul Pelosi’s relationship with the attacker. 

This disturbing incident successfully portrays the state of American politics today. Violence has become a medium for spreading one’s ideas. This is the most recent case, but certainly not the only one. Five years ago, a political opponent shot House Minority Whip Steve Scalise at a baseball game. Less than two years ago, extremists raided the Capitol in an attempted deadly siege. These events make one thing clear: The United States today is polarized, and many see violence as a valid means of communicating their frustrations.