A 27-year-old man was arrested on Saturday for trespassing into the office of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
The unidentified man trespassed into the New York City district office of Ocasio-Cortez at a time when no one else was present, according to ABC News. The incident happened around 4:40 PM ET and involved the man being confronted by police, spraying a fire extinguisher at them in an apparent attempt to hold them off and then trying to hide in a utility closet.
"It doesn't seem to be a break-in. It seems to be a trespass. Upon our arrival, he ended up discharging a fire extinguisher, which caused a cloud condition," George Tsourovakas, a spokesman for the New York City police department, told reporters. The 27-year-old man then "retreated into a utility closet" before eventually being taken into custody. It is unclear at this time what his motives were for trespassing at Ocasio-Cortez's Queens office.
Ocasio-Cortez has spoken out in the past about threats of physical violence that she has faced as a result of the harsh criticism she receives from members of the far right. The New York congresswoman has been a particularly prominent target for conservatives after she won a stunning primary upset over Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., during the 2018 primaries. Because her district is predominantly Democratic, she had little trouble prevailing in the general election.
"What people don’t (maybe do) realize is when orgs air these hateful messages, my life changes bc of the flood of death threats they inspire," Ocasio-Cortez explained in a tweet last month after a minor league baseball team played a video during a game that compared her to Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. "I‘ve had mornings where I wake up & the 1st thing I do w/ my coffee is review photos of the men (it’s always men) who want to kill me."
She later added, "I don’t even get to see all of them. Just the ones that have been flagged as particularly troubling. It happens whenever Fox gets particularly aggressive + hateful, too. Young interns have to constantly hear hateful messages (far beyond disagreement) from ppl we don’t even rep. All of this is to say that words matter, and can have consequences for safety. For those who believe in 'free speech': whose free speech do you believe in? Bc some folks using free speech to defend racism are also supporting folks passing laws to allow running over protesters."
In March, Time Magazine elaborated on the threats that Ocasio-Cortez faces every day with an anecdote about how staffers react when she faces new visitors:
Every 10 minutes or so, someone knocks on the big wooden door of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s office on Capitol Hill. The noise makes staffers stiffen. It’s almost always a harmless fan, one of dozens who arrive each day, leaving neon-colored Post-it notes as devotional offerings. But in her first three months in Congress, aides say, enough people have threatened to murder Ocasio-Cortez that Capitol Police trained her staff to perform risk assessments of her visitors.