Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, was hit with a drink thrown at him by a protester at a Florida event, MSN reports. A similar form of protest, known as “milkshaking,” has targeted conservative politicians in the United Kingdom.
Gaetz, who represents Florida’s First Congressional District — which includes parts of the Panhandle, including Pensacola — was in town on Saturday for a town hall at a Pensacola bar and restaurant. As he was walking out of the establishment, flanked by security and surrounded by a crowd, a drink of some kind flew out of the crowd and struck the congressman on the shoulder, as The Hill reports.
Whether or not the drink spilled on Gaetz is unclear, but the congressman could be seen reacting to being struck and then turning to point into the crowd, in the direction the drink apparently came from. Police quickly detained a 35-year-old woman, identified as Amanda Kondrat’yev. She’s been charged with battery, according to Northwest Florida Daily News.
In a statement, Gaetz’s office made it clear that anyone who commits an act of assault against the Congressman or his staff will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“If anyone assaults anyone else, they can expect to be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law to ensure the security of all law-abiding participants,” said a Gaetz spokesperson.
It remains unclear, as of this writing, what was in the drink that appeared to strike Gaetz. However, the incident bears similarities to “milkshaking” — a form of protest that is all the rage these days in the United Kingdom.
As The Atlantic reported last week, “milkshaking” has become the de rigueur form of protest against conservative politicians in the United Kingdom. Conservative politician and Brexit party leader Nigel Farage, for example, seems to be a particularly attractive target for the practice.
London-based security consultant Dan Kaszeta says that throwing foodstuffs at politicians is likely as old as politics itself. Eggs, tomatoes, pies, and all manner of other foodstuffs have been thrown at politicians over the centuries. Throwing a milkshake at a politician has the added benefit of creating a striking visual metaphor, as the fatty liquid sticks to the fabric and stands out against the dark-colored suits that male politicians often wear.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage gestures after being hit with a milkshake while arriving for a campaign event in Newcastle. More news in photos from the month of May: https://t.co/o8QLIfZ8K4 ???? Scott Heppell pic.twitter.com/iPDKQnJfkb— Reuters Pictures (@reuterspictures) June 1, 2019
Kaszeta notes that most politicians who have been milkshaked, egged, or otherwise pelted with food “take it in good humor.” However, the security expert is quick to point out that throwing a projectile at someone is an act of assault in any jurisdiction, so people shouldn’t do it.