A fight broke out at an outdoor town hall event for Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) Sunday after some of Porter's supporters confronted nationalist protesters.
Porter's event, titled "Policy in the Park," was held in Irvine, California, and was the first in-person town hall held by the congresswoman since the pandemic began. It was advertised as a family-friendly event with activities for kids and an opportunity for constituents to participate in a question-and-answer session with the congresswoman.
But after protesters repeatedly interrupted Porter as she spoke, a group of her supporters confronted the hecklers, and police had to intervene to stop the altercation, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"It is disappointing that a small but vocal group of attendees, who advertised a 'confrontation rally,' created unsafe conditions at a planned family-friendly event," Porter said in a statement after the incident. "While I absolutely respect their right to disagree, their disturbance disrespected all the families who attended and were ready to engage in a thoughtful, civil and safe way.
"My team and I are evaluating next steps, but my promise to Orange County families is that I will continue to hold town halls and to be in conversation with them."
Days before the event began, Nick Taurus, a self-described "American nationalist and Roman Catholic" activist who says he is challenging Porter in the upcoming midterm elections, called on his supporters to "Confront Katie Porter!" at her town hall, inviting them to join his campaign and "voice our displeasure" with the congresswoman.
"Katie Porter is a far-left ideologue supported by Bay Area academics, the billionaire class and foreign lobbies!" Taurus wrote in an Instagram post. "Her America Last policies are awful for the 45th district and we intend to voice our displeasure."
The scuffle broke out after Porter began speaking. The protesters were heckling her with shouts of "Carpetbagger Katie!" and "Corrupt Katie Porter" as she addressed the crowd.
"I am so excited to be here with you all today. Thank you everyone for coming out to express your opinion," she said. "This is an outdoor activity; we have a lot of wind. So I'm going to ask that everyone, regardless of your views, try to keep your voices down and be quiet so we can have a conversation."
According to the Times' account, Porter's supporters started the fight, which was eventually broken up by police.
Porter supporters, who made up the bulk of the crowd, tried to drown out the protesters by chanting "Katie! Katie! Katie!" or screaming "Shut up!" A few confronted protesters, resulting in punches being thrown and men falling to the ground. Porter rushed to the scuffle, wrapping her arms around an elderly woman near the scrum.
Officers from the Irvine Police Department intervened and separated the factions. Sgt. Karie Davies said one Porter supporter was arrested but released on a citation, and officers took a report of assault and battery. Injuries "sounded minor," she said.
Taurus, who was present, declined to comment on what happened to the Times but posted about it on social media afterward. He claimed that he and his supporters only began heckling Porter because she did not guarantee them the opportunity to ask questions. He criticized Porter's staff for screening the questions submitted by town hall attendees and using a raffle system to determine which questions the congresswoman would respond to.
"Everything that happened today was, again, instigated by the left," Taurus said in an Instagram video. "We were down there and people can say, 'well, oh, you were down there to confronter her or be disruptive,' things of that nature. Doesn't matter. She's the representative for the 45th District. We have every right to go down, ask questions as constituents — people who pay her salary — and expect to get answers."
"We were going and trying to ask questions, trying to make our voice heard, and all of the sudden you have three Katie Porter supporters accosting us," he claimed.
At the end of Sunday's event, Taurus led a chant of "America first!" and reportedly asked others in attendance if they were from America.