WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nexstar) — One Republican senator says anti-fascist groups are hijacking protests, causing violence in cities across the country. But he wants local officials to do more to stop that violence.
At a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said Americans’ right to peacefully protest is being disrupted.
“No one has a right to assault another person, to firebomb a building to throw a Molotov cocktail into a police car,” he said.
When protesters took to the streets to call for justice following the death of George Floyd, Cruz said their message was overshadowed by extremist groups.
“Groups like Antifa that will, without shame, exploit a national tragedy to attack American buildings, American homes, American lives,” he said.
Cruz said to stop things from getting worse, he’s introduced legislation that would hold local officials who don’t do enough to stop the violence accountable.
“If your business is looted and destroyed during a riot as a result of a decision of political leaders to deny you police protection, that you have a federal cause of action to sue,” he said.
But Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) fired back — saying law enforcement is to blame.
“We should be focused on preventing federal officers from beating up protesters, teargassing them,” she said.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said lawmakers should stop pointing fingers and address why the protests started in the first place.
“These men and women want our nation to reckon with the systemic racism that remains at the heart of so many of our institutions,” he said.