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Houston police arrested a man accused of throwing an alcoholic beverage can at Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) during the World Series victory parade for the Houston Astros on Monday.
The can, which authorities said contained beer but the senator identified as the hard seltzer White Claw, 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.”
Cruz is no stranger to being confronted in public. He has been heckled at a Houston sushi restaurant over his stance on gun control, and grilled at an Italian eatery in Washington, D.C., about his friendship with Brett Kavanaugh, who was a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court at the time.
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.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) was booed as he took part in the World Series parade to celebrate the Houston Astros on Nov. 7. (Video: @Natural_I3eauty via Storyful)
In the deep-red state, Joe Biden won Harris County — which includes Houston — by more than 10 points in the 2020 presidential election.
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.
Tensions are high locally and nationally ahead of the midterm elections Tuesday.
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.”