Ocasio-Cortez accused nearby Capitol police officers of doing nothing at the time of the incident and said that members of her staff had to call the department multiple times to see if they had information on the harasser.
“The normalisation of this event and this dismissiveness is dangerous,” the New York Democrat told reporters at the Capitol on Thursday. “It’s not just about me. It’s about every person.”
The Capitol police released a statement on Thursday saying: “The comments, although inappropriate, are not criminal. In the video, the man never threatened or touched the Congresswoman. Out of an abundance of caution, our officers stopped the man and ran his information, which did not show any warrants.”
Ocasio-Cortez initially removed a tweet about the confrontation because “it’s clearly someone seeking extremist fame”. But she later tweeted the video posted by her harasser and wrote: “I was actually walking over to deck him because if no one will protect us then I’ll do it myself but I needed to catch a vote more than a case today.
“I posted about a deeply disgusting incident that happened today on the Capitol steps, but took it down bc it’s clearly someone seeking extremist fame.
“It’s just a bummer to work in an institution that openly allowed this, but talking about it only invites more. Just really sad.”
Public officials have been subject to increasingly aggressive confrontations as the political divide in the nation has deepened. Protesters have been demonstrating outside the homes of some Supreme Court justices since the high court overturned the Roe v Wade decision legalising abortion. Protesters also showed up outside a Washington, DC, restaurant while Justice Brett Kavanaugh was dining, prompting him to leave by a side door.
The chief security officer for the Supreme Court has demanded that Virginia and Maryland officials enforce laws against picketing in front of private houses because of the increase in “threatening activity” at the justices’ homes. Last month, a California man was charged with attempted murder after being arrested with a pistol outside Kavanaugh’s house and threatening to kill him.
Ocasio-Cortez, an outspoken progressive who has been a particular target of the highly personalised harassment she experienced outside the Capitol, tweeted at the time of the Kavanaugh incident that she “will never understand the pearl-clutching over these protests” because she frequently has to deal with them.
Other legislators have been subject to threats. The Seattle Times reported that a man arrested on Saturday on suspicion of committing a hate crime against Representative Pramila Jayapal was released from jail. King County prosecutors said he was released because police could not say with certainty that he told the Congresswoman to go back to India or that he threatened to kill her, according to the newspaper.
Ocasio-Cortez has previously detailed how she feared for her life when the US Capitol was attacked on 6 January 2021 by a mob of former president Donald Trump’s supporters seeking to stop certification of the election results.
(Reporting by Billy House.)