A 27-year-old man has been arrested in connection with an incident in which a van was driven through a tent set up by Republican Party volunteers in Jacksonville, Florida, as part of a voter registration drive.
Gregory William Loel Timm faces two counts of aggravated assault on a person 65 years of age or older, one count of criminal mischief and driving with a suspended license, according to First Coast News.
#JSO has arrested the suspect who drove through the voter registration tent in the area of 11900 Atlantic Boulevard.
Gregory Timm has been charged with Aggravated Assault, Criminal Mischief, and Driving While Driver’s License Suspended. pic.twitter.com/zGKbR2VTg0
— Jax Sheriff’s Office (@JSOPIO) February 9, 2020
Mark Alfieri, who was among the volunteers, said the vehicle missed hitting the tent’s staffers by inches. No injuries were reported.
“Kind of out of the blue, a man approached us in a van, was waving at us. Kind of a friendly demeanor, thought he was coming up to talk to us, instead he accelerated his vehicle and plowed right into our tent, our tables,” Alfieri said, according to WJAX.
He said he and five women were staffing the tent at the time.
“After he ran over everything, he backed up, took out a cell phone, kind of recorded the damage, made some obscene gestures at us and then proceeded to leave the complex,” Alfieri said.
“It happened so quickly,” said volunteer Nina Williams, according to WIXT. “I just barely got out of the way.”
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, a Republican and former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, cited the culture of hate that has become part of politics in his response to the attack.
Sadly, this happened. I spoke to the GOP chair. This is outrageous. The hate is toxic and dangerous. Thankfully no one was injured but certainly they are shaken after being targeted because they were registering voters. I’ve spoken to the Sheriff & of course his team is on this https://t.co/dRENZi0Bxq
— Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) February 8, 2020
The Duval County GOP said it will not back off its efforts to enroll voters.
“We are outraged by this senseless act of violence toward our great volunteers,” said Duval GOP Chairman Dean Black in a statement on the party’s Facebook page.
“The Republican Party of Duval County will not be intimidated by these cowards and we will not be silenced. I call on every Republican in our great city to stand up, get involved, and show these radicals that we will not be intimidated from exercising our Constitutional rights.”
The statement said the Duval County GOP “plans to redouble its efforts to register voters and will continue it’s [sic] fight with renewed intensity to re-elect President Donald Trump.”
President Donald Trump and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida each tweeted angry responses to the incident.
Law Enforcement has been notified. Be careful tough guys who you play with! https://t.co/1Pq0hOrzy2
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2020
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 8, 2020
Police have not officially announced whether the attack was politically motivated.
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