'They Choked Me. They Threw Me Down.': CodePink's Medea Benjamin Assaulted by Right-Wing Venezuelan Opposition and Threatened With Arrest
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of anti-war group CodePink, said she was assaulted Wednesday by supporters of the right-wing Venezuelan opposition during a Capitol Hill press conference announcing the creation of the bipartisan Congressional Venezuela Democracy Caucus.
Benjamin and other members of CodePink protested the event while backers of the effort to overthrow Venezuela’s elected President Nicolás Maduro rallied in support of the new pro-regime change caucus, which was launched by Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.), and other lawmakers.
“I saw Medea Benjamin get assaulted and shoved to the ground, while I was threatened with physical violence.”
—Leonardo Flores, CodePink
During the press conference, Benjamin shouted for an end to punishing U.S. sanctions in Venezuela and held a sign that read “No Coups in Venezuela or Bolivia.”
At one point, Benjamin was standing just outside the circle of lawmakers when she was grabbed and choked from behind by an unidentified individual CodePink said was a supporter of the Venezuelan opposition.
“When Debbie Wasserman Schultz was speaking, I was standing right next to her, and every once in a while I would say something like, ‘Lift the Sanctions!’ ‘This is all about the votes, Debbie, isn’t it? In Florida!’,” Benjamin told journalist Ford Fischer following the event.
“I was pulled by people behind me,” she added. “They grabbed me. They choked me. They threw me down, and I was very upset and shaken.”
CodePink posted a clip of part of the incident on Twitter:
Hours after the event, Capitol police—with five vehicles—arrived at Benjamin’s home and threatened to arrest her on accusations of assaulting Wasserman Schultz, which Benjamin adamantly denied.
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