Police: Pro-vaccine lawmaker in California assaulted by anti-vaccine activist
A California state senator who authored a bill to restrict vaccine exemptions was assaulted in Sacramento on Wednesday by an anti-vaccine activist, police said.
State Sen. Richard Pan (D) was walking with a colleague when Kenneth Austin Bennett pushed him from behind, the Los Angeles Times reports. Bennett livestreamed the incident on Facebook, and is heard saying, "I probably shouldn't have done that." When he uploaded the video, he added the caption: "Yes, I pushed Richard Pan for lying, laughing at us, and for treason." Pan, he continued, "got what he deserved, he would be hanged for treason for assaulting children, for misrepresenting the truth."
Pan was not hurt in the incident. Bennet was cited for assault and has been released. In 2018, Bennett tried to challenge Pan in the primary, but did not qualify for the general election. Earlier this year, he filed a recall petition against Pan, accusing him of committing treason because he wants more kids in the state to be vaccinated.
Ever since Pan wrote his 2015 bill tightening vaccine requirements for kids in schools, he has been targeted by anti-vaxxers, his spokeswoman Shannan Velayas told the Times. "This is moving from a peculiar fringe curiosity to a violent extremist movement," she said. "Unfortunately, this is not a surprise when violent rhetoric is used."