Louisiana Republican Representative Clay Higgins manhandled a protester on Wednesday, after the activist asked other GOP members questions about their personal lives.
In a video that has gone viral, Higgins can be seen grabbing a protester and shoving him away from a press conference, repeatedly saying, “You’re out, you’re out.” At one point, Higgins uses so much force that he lifts the young man off the ground. The protester continues to say, “Get off me!”
The protester has identified himself as a 25-year-old named Jake Burdett. He told Newsweek that he had been in D.C. for a Medicare for All rally hosted by Senator Bernie Sanders. When the event ended, Burdett saw that several Republicans, including Higgins, Lauren Boebert, and Paul Gosar, were holding a press conference, so he went over to ask questions.
In videos he posted on Twitter, Burdett asks Gosar about his apparent ties to neo-Nazi Nick Fuentes and his own family opposing his politics. Burdett also asks Boebert about her divorce and a food poisoning outbreak at her former restaurant Shooters Grill.
In both videos, Higgins approaches Burdett to make him stop asking questions. It’s during the questions to Boebert that Higgins begins shoving Burdett away. Burdett said on Twitter that Capitol Police officers took him to the side and questioned him. A third video shows officers asking him what happened, and someone out of frame says, “He tried to attack a member of Congress,” which was quickly refuted by other protesters. Burdett said he did not see Capitol Police questioning Higgins.
There is widespread outrage online over Higgins’s actions, including a petition calling for him to be charged with assault and battery. Retired U.S. Army General Mark Hertling called Higgins’s actions “BS” and said the representative should be charged.
Higgins did not respond to a request from The New Republic for comment.
But Higgins has a history of taking things way too far. He joined the Opelousas City Police Department in 2004, and within three years, the police chief was prepared to take major disciplinary action against Higgins for using “unnecessary force on a subject” and then later giving false statements during the investigation. Higgins resigned before he could be disciplined.
A few years later, Higgins joined St. Landry Parish sheriff’s office, where he made videos for the local Crime Stoppers program. He repeatedly got into trouble for using aggressive language about suspects in the videos. Another video he made for the state police drew pushback from the ACLU.
The St. Landry Parish sheriff accused Higgins of using his badge and uniform for personal gain, by wearing them in an ad for a security firm and using them to sell personal merchandise. Salon magazine also reported that Higgins would negotiate large speaker’s fees for events, in cash, and one time asked that the fee also cover shopping money for his wife and fuel for a friend’s private plane.