Republican Senator Tom Cotton urges followers to attack pro-Palestine protesters who block traffic

Tom Cotton Nathan Howard/Getty Images
Tom Cotton Nathan Howard/Getty Images
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Back in 2020, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton took to The New York Times to demand that U.S. soldiers be deployed against protesters. Now he's again calling for a violent response to protests, but this time by vigilantes.

“I encourage people who get stuck behind the pro-Hamas mobs blocking traffic: take matters into your own hands to get them out of the way,” Cotton wrote Monday evening on X, where he has over 500,000 followers. “It's time to put an end to this nonsense.”

After Cotton's post garnered critical attention, he posted a video the next morning showing a man dragging protesters blocking traffic in San Francisco from the street to the curb, writing: "How it should be done."

As in 2020, Cotton is using the platform available to him to inflame  to pour "gasoline on the fire," as the News Guild of New York, a union representing many Times journalists, phrased it following his Op-Ed.

Amid the war in Gaza and protests over U.S. support for Israel, Cotton is again offering incitement.

The danger is real. While Cotton’s instructions are open to interpretation, there is a history of drivers violently assaulting protesters who block traffic. For example, in 2017, Heather D. Heyer was killed at a rally in Charlottesville, Va., by a white supremacist who intentionally slammed into her while she was in the street.