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Protests draw variety of responses from Orange County reps, and their GOP challengers

In a rare show of unity, all seven of Orange County’s congressional representatives, and most of the GOP candidates challenging for their seats, have made public statements condemning the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

But how they’re responding, or not responding, to the wave of peaceful and violent protests that have spread across the country in the week since Floyd’s death — and what they believe should happen next — reflect stark contrasts among the 14 people vying to represent portions of Orange County.

The most marked contrast is in the 45th District, which stretches from Irvine to Mission Viejo and north through Anaheim.

Current CA-45 Rep. Katie Porter, a Democrat from Irvine, is backing a House resolution condemning police brutality. She’s also calling for specific reforms, including the creation of a national database of officers who’ve used excessive force and banning them from being hired, the end of giving military weapons to police departments, and more transparency in police records and budgets.

“We cannot tolerate officers’ continued failure to keep people safe in their custody or police in ways that reinforce racial injustices,” she tweeted.

Porter’s GOP challenger, Greg Raths, a Mission Viejo councilman, called for Attorney General William Barr to pursue racketeering charges against the protesters. He agrees with President Donald Trump’s push to declare followers of the far-left movement Antifa as terrorists and said, without evidence, that he believes Antifa is organizing and funding the demonstrations nationwide thanks to support from billionaire George Soros.

Raths has also tweeted his support for Trump using the Insurrection Act to send active-duty military to cities to squash the protests.

“We should not stand for this direct assault on what generations of Americans have built,” Raths tweeted.

Rep. Gil Cisneros, a Democrat and Navy veteran from Yorba Linda who represents the 39th District, has been the most vocal local opponent of Trump using active military in response to the demonstrations.

“I’m outraged that he’s threatening to deploy our military against the American people,” Cisneros said in a statement.

“While the President thinks this is a show of strength, in reality, it is a show of weakness. The right words at the right time can make a real difference, and instead, the President is behaving like a third world military leader, not the leader of the free world.”

Former state Assemblywoman Young Kim, who’s challenging Cisneros to represent the district, which includes portions of Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, issued a statement condemning Floyd’s death and calling for justice to be served both for the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes and for the three other officers who looked on as he died. In a video message, the La Habra resident also encouraged people to protest peacefully.

“While there is so much hurt and anxiety in our country right now, I also hope that people will remember that violence and destruction are not the constructive responses to what we are feeling,” Kim said.

Michelle Steel, chair of the Board of Supervisors and GOP challengers in the 48th District, also tweeted a comment calling for justice for Floyd but condemning violent demonstrations.

“Peaceful protests are central to our democracy, but violence is unacceptable,” said Steel of Seal Beach.

CA-48 Rep. Harley Rouda, D-Laguna Beach, said he stands with Floyd’s brother, who spoke on video calling for an end to the looting and violent demonstrations. Rouda also shared a think piece from basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on why protests are necessary. And Rouda condemned the Trump administration’s use of tear gas to disperse protesters near the White House on Monday night, calling it a “gross and violent misuse of government.”

In the 49th District, covering south Orange County and north San Diego County, Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, called for a full investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department and pinned a “Black Lives Matter” tweet to his twitter page.

Levin also said he supported a joint letter from San Diego County community leaders that called for documenting excessive force by police and redefining what that means, including a ban on chokeholds. On Monday, San Diego police announced they will no longer use the controversial neck hold that killed Floyd.

Levin’s challenger, Brian Maryott, a Republican councilman from San Juan Capistrano, first reacted to the situation Sunday night with a tweet condemning the violent protests. On Tuesday, he issued a statement condemning both Floyd’s murder and the riots that have occurred in its wake.

“There is no excuse for this kind of activity,” Maryott said. “If it doesn’t stop, it seems inevitable that there will be further loss of innocent life.”

Rep. Lou Correa, a Democrat from Anaheim representing the 46th District, said officers and elected leaders need to do better.

“Over the coming weeks, I will be working with my colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee to find real solutions that our nation can rally behind,” he said in a statement.

Correa’s GOP challenger, James Waters, doesn’t appear to have made any public statements on Floyd’s killing or the protest.

Neither has John Briscoe, a Republican running against Rep. Alan Lowenthal in CA-47.

Lowenthal, a Democrat from Long Beach, called for justice for Floyd, saying: “We need to take a firm stand to end the structural discrimination and racism that afflicts communities of color all over this nation.” He also condemned looting that took place in his city and thanked those who’ve helped clean up the aftermath.

With two Democrats facing off in the 38th District, the distinctions reflect a splinter in the Democratic party between establishment and young progressive candidates.

Rep. Linda Sánchez echoed her colleagues’ call for justice in Floyd’s death and joined Porter in backing the resolution supporting police reform. Her challenger, Michael Tolar, said he’s actively participating in demonstrations.

Source: Orange County Register

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