Democratic Rep. Katie Porter of California responded to a scuffle that broke out at an event she held in her district on Sunday between protesters and attendees, claiming that the incident was premeditated by her opponents.
“At our town halls, we take steps, such as putting all questions into a bingo ball spinner, so that we hear all voices, not just the loudest ones. It is disappointing that a small but vocal group of attendees, who advertised a ‘confrontation rally,’ created unsafe conditions at a planned family-friendly event” Porter said in a statement provided to CNN.
Ahead of Porter’s event, Nick Taurus, who says he plans to run against Porter in the midterm election, posted on Instagram that he wanted his supporters to join him at the town hall to “CONFRONT KATIE PORTER!”
Since the incident, Taurus said on Instagram that he and his followers were “attacked by rabid leftists” at the town hall and alleged that Porter only took “pre-selected” questions.
Porter said in a statement to CNN that her team is evaluating how to keep her events safe going forward, a continued challenge for members who face heightened security threats while in their home districts.
“While I absolutely respect their right to disagree, their disturbance disrespected all the families who attended and were ready to engage in a thoughtful, civil, and safe way. My team and I are evaluating next steps, but my promise to Orange County families is that I will continue to hold town halls and to be in conversation with them” Porter continued.
According to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported details of the incident, the scuffle broke out shortly after Porter began speaking to a crowd of a few hundred people at Mike Ward Community Park in Irvine, which was her first in-person town hall since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. As Porter spoke, according to the Times, a handful of protesters shouted “Carpetbagger Katie!” and “Corrupt Katie Porter.”
In response to the protesters, Porter supporters chanted “Katie! Katie! Katie!” or yelled “Shut up!”
When the protest escalated to punches being thrown, Porter reportedly rushed to the scuffle, and according to the Los Angeles Times, wrapped her arms around an elderly woman near the scrum.
The Irvine Police Department said in a statement that its officers were on scene for the event and that it became violent.
“Our officers were on scene for the event. There were opposing opinions at the town hall. It got heated and punches were thrown. One man received a bloody nose. The suspect was arrested, given a citation and released from the scene. The assault occurred at about 3:45pm,” the Irvine Police Department said in a statement.
CNN’s Stella Chan contributed to this report.