Anti-vaccine activist Austin Bennett assaulted California Senator Richard Pan while on a Facebook Live segment, according to local police who cited Bennett with an assault charge.
Kenneth Austin Bennett once ran a write-in campaign for California’s senate, is a prominent anti-vaccine activist who strongly disagrees with Pan’s mandatory vaccine bill requiring California schoolchildren to maintain most CDC scheduled vaccines. Pan is now actively seeking to restrict medical professionals ability to write medical vaccine exemptions for children. His new proposal has drawn steep criticisms, including from actress Jessica Biel.
On Wednesday, Bennett took to the streets of the state capitol and confronted Pan as he was walking towards his office. At nearly the 8-minute-mark of the video, Bennett approaches Pan. Bennett walks with Pan attempting to make a case for the anti-vaccine movement. But Pan tells Bennett he needs to further study the subject.
“I’m a constituent,” Bennett said. “I want to know.”
Pan continues to walk, boasting a smile. At this point, Bennett pushes Pan.
“Yeah, I pushed you,” he said. “I pushed you. I pushed you. Adios.”
Pan requested that Facebook censor the video, claiming it might serve to incite more anti-vaccine activists into violence.
Pan says he fears the video might motivate “a future assailant who seeks to up the ante with a weapon.”
“Mr. Bennett is not a lone actor, but a person who accepted the violent rhetoric of the anti-vax movement and acted upon it by assaulting me on a public street while live streaming the attack on Facebook,” said Pan, who has received death threats for his efforts to tighten vaccine requirements. “Social media companies also need to accept responsibility for giving a platform for this violence and hate.”
But Facebook, in a surprise move, decided against removing the video. They say the video did not violate any policies regarding violence.
“We want everyone using Facebook to feel safe — that’s why we have Community Standards and remove anything that violates them, including violent content,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “In this instance, after a thorough investigation, we determined there was no basis to remove the video as it does not violate our policies.”
Bennett later admits he “probably shouldn’t have” pushed Pan.
“I was charged with assaulting Richard Pan, but also had the chance to further expose the corrupt politician,” he later said in a video.
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.
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