(Video: Fox News)
New York gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin spoke to the media on Friday, the day after he was attacked on stage during a campaign event by a crazed member of the audience who charged the stage and attempted to harm him with a sharp keychain intended for self-defense, a terrifying example of how disturbed individuals may be prodded into acting out violently in today’s tense political atmosphere.
Rep. Zeldin was spared from harm when attendees at the event moved quickly to subdue the attacker who said “you’re done” as he tried to stab him, but it was a close call that was unnerving as well as a warning sign that irresponsible rhetoric from politicians and media that plays on the emotions of the unstable is getting dangerously closer to getting someone killed.
While he was not harmed, Zeldin had to suffer the indignity of watching his assailant, 43-year-old Army veteran David Jakubonis be quickly released from police custody shortly after he allegedly attempted to murder a sitting member of Congress, a crime that in places other than New York, would merit a longer stay behind bars.
“The first thing that I will do after I’m sworn into office is to do my constitutional duty — it’s not just constitutional authority — but to do my constitutional duty to remove the district attorney who refuses to enforce the law,” the lawmaker said on Friday.
In an early Friday tweet, Zeldin recalled the incident and correctly said that his attacker would be “instantly released,” a prediction that came to fruition when Jakubonis was given a get of of jail free card.
His words as he tried to stab me a few hours ago were “you’re done”, but several attendees, including @EspositoforNY, quickly jumped into action & tackled the guy.
Law enforcement was on the scene within minutes.
The attacker will likely be instantly released under NY’s laws. pic.twitter.com/wZEyIyrjFe
— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) July 22, 2022
The Jewish Republican whose congressional district is in Long Island told New York City radio station 1010 WINS, “You just can’t be going around trying to stab, not just members of Congress, but anybody, for that matter,” Zeldin said. “I believe you shouldn’t just be instantly released,”
Zeldin’s running mate, Alison Esposito who hopes to become the state’s lieutenant governor spoke out strongly after the attacker’s release.
“I think it’s horrific. I think, what does this tell us about the shot that innocent victims, everyday New Yorkers, have just walking the streets of New York?” Esposito told Fox News Digital. “If a sitting congressman at a political rally who is exercising his right to free speech and exercising his free, the freedoms of expressing his opinion, when an individual comes up and attempts to take his life, and attempts to assault him, attempts to potentially murder him, and within six hours that man has been released.”
“You know, what does that say for the everyday New Yorker who’s trying to get a fair shake in our justice system, when you’re going to release somebody who attempts to take the life of a sitting congressman?” Esposito told the outlet.
On Friday, COVID-stricken President Joe Biden condemned the attack on Zeldin.
“I condemn the attack on Congressman Zeldin in the strongest terms,” he said in a White House statement. “As I’ve said before, violence has absolutely no place in our society or our politics. I am especially grateful for the courage of those who immediately intervened, and that he is unharmed and was able to continue his speech. I also want to thank the law enforcement officers who quickly took action and are investigating this attack that defies our fundamental democratic values.”
President Biden's statement on yesterday's attack on @leezeldin pic.twitter.com/uVr7W08oa0
— Erin McEwan (@erinmcewan) July 22, 2022
Zeldin is looking to deliver relief to New Yorkers who have seen their state deteriorate under a string of Democrat governors, most notably scandal-plagued COVID dictator Andrew Cuomo and his replacement, current Governor Kathy Hochul who has in many ways outdone her predecessor in terms of sheer authoritarianism and a proclivity to coddle criminals.
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