Houston police on Monday arrested a man accused of throwing a can at Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) during the World Series victory parade for the Houston Astros.
The can hit Cruz around his chest and neck, according to police. The senator, 51, did not need medical attention.
The 33-year-old who allegedly threw the can at Cruz was taken to jail and faces assault charges, according to police.
“As always I’m thankful for the Houston Police and Capitol Police for their quick action,” Cruz tweeted. “I’m also thankful that the clown who threw his White Claw had a noodle for an arm.”
Politicians and other government officials have been attacked in public before: Eggs, pies, books, shoes and glitter bombs are some common items.
But researchers say the current political climate is unique.
“I am seeing something different this time,” said Spencer Overton, a law professor at George Washington University.
He said America is experiencing cultural anxiety like never before, and people are engaging in political violence to preserve their identity.
Videos posted online show the crowd booing Cruz during another stretch of the parade.
Harris County also has hosted some of the fiercest political fights in Texas, including Republicans deploying election monitors to oversee the handling of ballots. Democrats worry the monitors might intimidate voters, but Republicans say they are trying to secure the integrity of the vote.
One in five adults in the United States would be willing to tolerate acts of political violence, according to a survey of 8,500 people led by Garen J. Wintemute, the director of the UC Davis Violence Prevention Program and an emergency room physician.
And while there is a step between condoning and committing political violence, Wintemute said support for violence creates a climate of acceptance for violence. “I expect to see sporadic acts of violence around the midterm election,” he said.
A database released by Princeton University last month tracked 400 instances of political violence against government officials.
“One of our takeaways is that people use political violence and threats as a political strategy, instead of using ballot boxes,” said Joel Day, a research director of the database. “Threats and violence are never only about the official they are focused on. They are designed for discouraging people from participating in the democratic process.”