“As always, I am grateful to the Houston Police and Capitol Police for their prompt action,” Cruz tweeted. “I’m also grateful that the clown who threw his White Claw got a noodle for an arm.”
Politicians and other government officials have been attacked in crowds before: eggs, pies, books and glitter bombs are common items.
But researchers say the current political climate is unique.
“I see something different this time,” said Spencer Overton, a law professor at George Washington University.
He said America was experiencing cultural anxiety like never before and people were engaging in political violence to preserve their identity.
Videos posted online show the crowd booing Cruz during another part of the parade.
In the dark red state, Joe Biden won Harris County — which includes Houston — by more than 10 points in the 2020 presidential election.
Harris County has also hosted some of the hottest political fights in Texas, including Republicans deploying election monitors to oversee the processing of ballots. Democrats fear the monitors will intimidate voters, but Republicans say they are trying to ensure the integrity of the vote.
Tensions are running high at local and national levels ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections.
One in five adults in the United States would tolerate acts of political violence, according to a survey of 8,500 people by Garen J. Wintemute, director of the UC Davis Violence Prevention Program and emergency physician.
And while there is a fine line between tolerating and committing political violence, Wintemute said supporting violence creates a climate of acceptance of violence. “I expect to see sporadic acts of violence around the midterm elections,” he said.
A database released by Princeton University last month listed 400 cases of political violence against government officials.
“One of our takeaways is that people are using violence and political threats as a political strategy, instead of using the ballot box,” said Joel Day, the database’s research director. “Threats and violence are never just about the official on whom they are focused. They are designed to discourage people from participating in the democratic process.