Police seek woman in Larry Elder attack as his supporters claim a double standard

VENICE, CA. September 8, 2021:Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder is escorted by a security guard as a few homeless people yell during a tour in Venice Wednesday. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)
Larry Elder is escorted by a security guard on Wednesday in Venice after a woman in the gorilla mask, at right, threw an egg at him. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

As the Los Angeles police investigators try to identify a woman wearing a gorilla mask who threw an egg at Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder in Venice, some of the talk show host's supporters are complaining that the Wednesday incident that forced Elder to cut his campaigning short is not generating more outrage.

The gorilla mask prompted conservative commentators to suggest that the incident was racially motivated, given the white supremacist history of dehumanizing Black people with ape imagery.

Two law enforcement sources told The Times on Friday that the department was working the case as a misdemeanor battery because the woman gave no indication she was moved by hate in a video taken at the scene. But they stressed that no decision will be made until she's identified and police get more details about what happened.

The altercation occurred when Elder, as part of his "Recall Express" campaign bus tour, was visiting homeless encampments Wednesday morning when he was angrily surrounded by a group of homeless people and advocates.

When a male aide confronted the woman who threw the egg and missed, she slapped him in the face.

According to a police statement: "As the aide and Mr. Elder continue walking to their vehicle, the aide was approached by a male, white, bald, wearing a grey t-shirt yelling profanities at him, who struck him in the back of the head. During that altercation, an unknown individual approached the aide from the side and struck him in the face.”

Detectives are seeking both assailants as part of the investigation.

Elder and his team hastily parted in an SUV, 12 minutes after arriving.

Police say a more dangerous incident occurred earlier that day outside a senior center in Hollywood when someone fired a pellet gun at Elder's entourage and struck a staffer in the buttocks.

Detectives from the Robbery Homicide Division are investigating that attack and have no strong leads. "This is the more serious incident involving the candidate," Robbery Homicide Capt. Jonathan Tippet said.

After the attacks on Wednesday, Elder tweeted: "Today I kicked off the Recall Express bus tour. Before we even left Los Angeles, my security detail was physically assaulted, shot with a pellet gun, and hit with projectiles. The intolerant left will not stop us."

The next day he blamed the hostility in Venice on Gov. Gavin Newsom's failure to curb the homelessness crisis in California. “The reason that happened is because I was at the intersection of rising crime and homelessness here in California,” Elder said at a campaign event Thursday afternoon in Glendale.

Elder told Fox News later that day that "racial epithets" were yelled during the fracas, elaborating only that one person said, "Larry Elder doesn’t give a blank about Black people; Larry Elder only cares about white people."

He said he did not know if the egg-thrower was acting out of racism, but he complained that Democrats and the media would have hyped up the story if he were liberal.

"I’m not somebody who pulls out the race card the way Barack Obama does, the way Al Sharpton does, the way CNN does, the way Black Lives Matter does," he said. "Maybe it was just an idiot. Maybe it was just a fool. Maybe it was just someone who doesn’t like Larry Elder.

"All I know is: If I were a liberal, and somebody wearing a gorilla mask who was a white woman threw an egg at me, the left would be screaming about systemic racism," he continued.

Other conservatives have jumped in with similar accusations of a double standard.

"If Elder were a Democrat, the attack would have been instantly and with good reason dubbed racist," wrote Kyle Smith in the National Review. "It would not only be front-page news, it would be just about the only news you were hearing about today on CNN and MSNBC. ... We would be treated to multiple news analyses about the history of the usage of gorilla tropes against blacks."

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva tweeted: "QUESTION: How is this not a hate crime?

"ANSWER: Because 'woke privilege' means a white woman can wear a gorilla mask and attack a black man without fear of being called a racist.

"Where is the outrage from our politicians?"

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.