This is the time of year when political candidates are out meeting potential constituents on a frequent basis, and usually don’t have to really worry about personal safety while out at a county fair or local festival – but in this divisive political climate, that might have to change.
Rudy Peters, the Republican candidate challenging Democratic incumbent Eric Swalwell in California’s 15th Congressional District, was manning a Republican Party booth at the Castro Valley Fall Festival on Sunday afternoon when he was approached by a man who “pulled a switchblade and attempted to attack him.” Peters fended off the attack and was unhurt, but said he now worries about the safety of volunteers who may be in close physical proximity to him at public events.
Peters described the attack to KPIX, the CBS affiliate in San Francisco.
“He would have stabbed me,” Peters said. “I mean, he had it out saying, ‘I’m going to kill you MFer! I’m going to kill you!’ I could see his thumb trying to get the knife out.”
He said the encounters started with verbal threats.
“He picks up a coffee cup to rear back and throw it at us. And I jumped around the table. He throws the coffee cup and misses us. It hits the ground and breaks,” remembered Peters. “So I come out and grab him and wrestle him and throw him down to the ground.”
He said that was when 35-year-old Farzad Fazeli of Castro Valley pulled out a knife.
“He’s screaming, ‘I’ll kill you MFer! I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you!’ And he’s kind of circling me trying to get the knife out,” said Peters.
Fazeli has a prior conviction for battery, but his attorney, Frederick Remer, says he wasn’t the aggressor:
“My client at this point was afraid for his life and afraid for his health and safety. And I believe that it is alleged that he pulls out a folded knife. The knife was never opened.”
His mother, Dolly Adams, was working at a nearby Democratic Club booth at the time. She didn’t observe the altercation, but maintains that Peters attacked her son. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department’s press release paints a different picture:
From the statement:
According to witness statements, Farzad Fazeli (35) approached the victim in an aggressive manner and made disparaging remarks about his political party and elected officials. During the incident, Fazeli is suspected to have pulled out a switchblade knife and attempted to stab the victim. The knife malfunctioned and the victim became involved in a physical struggle with Fazeli.
Fazeli fled the scene but was detained a short time later by deputies. A switchblade knife was located on his person.
It’s worth noting that possessing a switchblade, whether openly or concealed, in any public place is a crime in California. Carrying a concealed switchblade is punishable by up to three years in prison.
Rep. Swalwell condemned the attack, but we haven’t heard from another California Democrat, Maxine Waters, who recently clarified comments she made earlier this year about Trump supporters to say she now “threatens” Trump supporters, but didn’t before.
Fazeli was stridently anti-Trump and anti-NRA according to posts on his Facebook page, so he could have been motivated by politics.
(As an aside: either the NRA isn’t doing such a great job of making it easier to buy a gun than to buy Sudafed, or Fazeli is so committed to his anti-gun agenda that he decided to go after his target with a knife.)
He was also part of the crowd blaming Donald Trump for acts of God:
But murderous drug lords are A-OK with Fazeli, such as Pablo Escobar, whom he described as “Robin hood” in a Facebook post that has since been deleted (screenshot of the photo he uploaded is shown below).
Fazeli attended the March For Our Lives this year, and his mother’s Facebook page features photos of her participating in anti-Trump rallies.
As much as I would love to pin this violence on violent rhetoric coming from elected officials who are members of the #resistance, by reading more of Fazeli’s Facebook posts it seems there were other issues that could explain his behavior. These posts are eerily similar to posts made by Elliot Rodger, the Isla Vista mass murderer.
As my colleague Alex Parker said so well in his 9/11 reflections yesterday:
We are not made better by loud voices, condemning the ideas of strangers; we are elevated by soft tones, speaking words of kindness to those who matter. Not in Washington; not across the country; but across the room.
We can be something that once was. We can build it; secure it. With our lives.
We are so many lives.
And we can do this. We don’t need Washington. Or presidents. Or legislators. We only need a return, for each and every one, to the things that matter. The events that shape us.
The increasingly intense and urgent calls for action against Trump and anyone remotely associated with the administration or the Republican party, and the resulting violent acts, are terrifying. Rep. Swalwell did the right thing by urging people to never use violence to settle political disputes. Maxine Waters and the rest of the Democrat party must make their opposition to any political violence unmistakably clear.
Follow Jennifer on Twitter @jenvanlaar, and on Facebook.