A permission structure for political violence
A former Republican candidate is arrested for ordering shootings at the houses of his opponents. The ideology behind the GOP's political project serves as a permission structure for violence.
During the past weeks, there had been headlines of unknown suspects shooting at the houses of elected Democratic official in Albuquerque. Now, the person behind the attacks has been arrested: former Republican candidate for the 14th congressional district Solomon Pena. He’d lost the election by 3600 votes, only receiving 2,033 votes while the Democrat got 5,679.
Pena checks the classic insurrectionist boxes: He had claimed the election was stolen and attended the riot at the Capitol on January 6th two years ago. The accusations are chilling: Pena is accused of paying four men to shoot at the homes of two county commissioners and two state legislators. According to the police, Pena was present for at least one of the shootings.
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After he’d lost the race for House District 14 he never conceded - and hasn’t to this day. He claimed on social media that the election had been rigged and that like Trump, he would not concede, because the vote had been manipulated. But he didn’t just rant on social media: He also previously visited the homes of three of the targets of the shootings, which he seems to have ordered later on. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller warned:
“APD essentially discovered what we had all feared and what we had suspected — that these shootings were indeed politically motivated. They were dangerous attacks not only to these individuals … but, fundamentally, also to democracy.”
The details of the shootings are harrowing:
“Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa’s Southeast Albuquerque home had been struck by eight bullets on Dec. 4 and a week later, on Dec. 11, more than 12 bullets hit County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley’s North Valley home.On Jan. 3, shots rang out at state Rep. Linda Lopez’s home in Southwest Albuquerque and three bullets went through her daughter’s bedroom as the 10-year-old slept. After news of the investigation began to circulate, state Rep. Javier Martínez — the current nominee for House speaker and the representative for District 11 in Southwest Albuquerque — inspected his home and noticed it too had sustained damage from bullets. He had heard gunfire outside his home on Dec. 8 and believes that’s when the shooting occurred. The state senator who represents District 11 later reported that a bullet struck the ceiling of her daughter’s room. She had awoken to gunfire and felt material falling from the ceiling.”
These are violent tactics - intimidation at best, an attempt at murder at worst.
Which is fitting - as Natascha Strobl, Austrian fascism expert, said at a Vienna event we held only yesterday: