Rep. Clay Higgins Assault Proves DC Activists and Statehood Supporters Don’t Have Unfettered, ‘Personal Access to the Seat of Government’

May 19th, 2023

Patrice Snow
[email protected]

Washington, DC – Still upset about being owned by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser during Tuesday’s House Oversight Committee hearing, Louisiana Rep. Clay Higgins assaulted a local activist just some 24 hours after the hearing because the local activist dared to use his “personal access” to question Higgins.

The irony that Congressman Higgins used his limited time during the May 16th hearing on Washington, DC to ask Mayor Bowser, “Is there any other municipality… that has access to our seat of government as the citizens of Washington, DC?” and then the very next day assaults a local activist who simply followed his instructions is almost more than we can bear. 

In light of this week’s developments, DC Statehood organization DC Vote, American Civil Liberties Union of DC, and People For the American Way released the following statement:

“During his time on Tuesday’s House Oversight Committee hearing, Rep. Clay Higgins made it a point to lay out all Members of Congress serve in Washington, DC which gives the 700,000 tax paying District residents unfettered, personal access to them. However, when a local citizen used such access to question the congressman, Higgins intentionally assaulted and battered him,” said Patrice Snow, DC Vote’s communications director.

Snow continued, “Does Congressman Higgins want local activists to be able to use their close proximity to federal officials to lobby them or not? And if they do choose to take advantage of said access, does he plan to physically assault all of them? The congressman has a history of unjustifiably beating bystanders without consequence to his personal or professional reputation. So we at DC Vote and in the DC Statehood movement are now calling on the Metropolitan Police Department and the Capitol Police to investigate yesterday’s assault. One of our mottos we use in the fight for DC autonomy is #HandsOffDC. We never thought in a million years it would be applied literally to a Member of Congress.”

Monica Hopkins, executive director of the ACLU-D.C., finished, “We are alarmed by the incident involving Rep. Higgins. When a government official seemingly uses the power of their office to physically intimidate a person to stop them from exercising their right to freedom of speech, it has a chilling effect on our democracy. It’s a serious concern when Jake Burdett is physically pushed out of a public forum for advocating, as is his first amendment right. This action risks creating an environment where people may feel fearful of expressing their opinions or challenging their representatives. No individual, regardless of their office, should feel exempt from accountability.”

Svante Myrick, president of People For the American Way, finished,“We are appalled by Rep. Higgins’s physical assault on Jake Burdett. It is shocking to see a member of Congress forcefully shoving and pushing a peaceful member of the public, especially when that member is trying to stop the person from exercising their constitutional right to express their views to elected representatives.  The attack is made even more bizarre by the fact that Rep. Higgins argued just one day earlier that D.C. residents enjoy extensive opportunities to address lawmakers in person and make their views known. We join with other civil rights organizations that are calling for the Metropolitan Police Department and the Capitol Police to investigate this assault.”