On Monday, Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said that one of his campaign’s canvassers “was brutally attacked” in what appeared to be a politically-motivated assault.
According to ABC News, Rubio shared details of the attack in a tweet and a subsequent press conference, saying that the incident took place in Hialeah, Florida.
“We know that someone wearing a Rubio shirt and a [Gov. Ron] DeSantis hat was walking in the neighborhood not far from here yesterday when four individuals assaulted him,” said Rubio said at a campaign rally. Sharing photos of the victim’s injuries on Twitter, Rubio added that the attackers allegedly shouted that “Republicans weren’t allowed in their neighborhood.”
The Hialeah police department released a statement revealing that officers had arrested one suspect, a man named Javier Lopez, after responding to reports of a “fight” and discovering the 27-year-old victim with “multiple bruises and a laceration.” The officers confirmed that the victim had been “passing out fliers” at the time of the assault.
“Mr. Lopez told the victim he was not allowed to walk on the sidewalk and pass out fliers in his neighborhood,” the police statement further explained. “The victim, in order to avoid the confrontation, walked across the street where he was again confronted by Mr. Lopez. During the verbal dispute, Mr. Lopez then struck the victim multiple times in the face and head, causing the injuries.”
An official with the local Republican Party later confirmed that the victim is a man who was once a member of the Miami-Dade GOP Executive Committee.
“The attack on a Republican canvasser is catastrophic, uncalled for and unprecedented,” said Kevin cooper, the campaign director for the Miami-Dade GOP. “We demand the perpetrators be caught, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Hialeah Mayor Esteban Bovo Jr. similarly denounced the attack on social media, declaring that “Freedom of speech is the bedrock of our democracy, and cowardly acts such as this should be condemned by all regardless of individual political affiliation. I have spoken to the victim’s family, and have pledged a thorough investigation.”