WASHINGTON — “I’ve never felt safe here,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) told Latino Rebels last week after being sexually harassed on the Capitol steps by right-wing media figure Alex Stein.
The congresswoman representing parts of the Bronx and Queens and her staff have been the targets of constant death threats since her first term began in 2019.
Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Cori Bush (D-MO) echo Ocasio-Cortez. “I don’t feel safe anywhere. It’s not limited to the Capitol,” said Pressley, who said she files threats against her with her chief of staff.
“I think it’s fair to say Congress can do a lot better on this,” said Bush chief of staff Abbas Alawieh about protecting members of Congress who receive death threats.
“I feel heard,” Bush said. “It’s just not prioritized.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), known for peddling far-right conspiracy theories, tells Latino Rebels she has requested a security detail from the House Sergeant at Arms several times, only to have her requests denied.
— Pablo Manríquez (@PabloReports) July 14, 2022
In contrast, on the Senate side, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has a security detail assigned to him at all times.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) tells Latino Rebels that the House Sargeant at Arms is responsible for signing off on armed security details for House members receiving death threats. “That’s a security judgment they make when they evaluate the threat,” Pelosi explained.
The Sargent at Arms referred Latino Rebels to the Capitol Police, which replied to our inquiry with a one-sentence email: “For safety reasons, we cannot provide everyone the security details or resources that are put into protecting any of the Members of Congress.”
Not all congresswomen who receive death threats feel unsafe in the Capitol complex.
“I am the security,” said Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), a strong gun advocate who worked at a gun-themed restaurant before running for Congress and promised to carry a Glock pistol on her while in Washington.
“I never feel fully safe when I’m disarmed,” Boebert told Latino Rebels.
Boebert says she cannot recall ever requesting a security detail from House leadership or law enforcement, but forwards threats “on a daily basis” and does not feel they are taken seriously.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) disagrees. “My understanding is that Capitol Police does a really thorough assessment of our threats,” said Omar, a sentiment echoed by Greene.
“These guys do a great job,” Greene said, pointing at a Capitol policeman standing guard on the House steps.
Omar and Greene both point out that there have been multiple prosecutions against people who have threatened their lives.
“We are in the people’s House,” said Omar about the balance that must be struck between safety and public access in Congress. “We want people to be here, to be part of this process, and I think creating extra barriers complicates our democracy and makes it less accessible for people.”
On Monday, Punchbowl News reported that the Sargent at Arms is creating a new residential security program, giving members $10,000 each to spend on securing their homes.
Pablo Manríquez is the Capitol Hill correspondent for Latino Rebels. Twitter: @PabloReports