SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – California State Senator Richard Pan says he’s thankful for the outpouring of support after he was shoved by an anti-vaccine activist near the State Capitol.
The confrontation happened on Wednesday and was live-streamed from the activist’s cell phone. Kenneth Austin Bennett filmed himself approaching Dr. Pan on L Street as the senator walked to a nearby restaurant.
Bennett engages with Pan, throwing questions to the senator about vaccines. Video then shows Bennett Push Pan from behind, forcing the senator forward.
Fellow legislators say the video was widely viewed at the capitol and has lawmakers concerned.
“I believe that we will be having some internal conversations about personal safety,” said Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager-Dove.
Thursday, Pan’s office released a lengthy statement from the senator addressing the incident.
“I am grateful and moved by the outpouring of support I have received since the assault against me yesterday,” Senator Pan wrote. “Thank you to the Pro Tem and minority leader and my fellow legislators for calling for civility and condemning this unprovoked physical assault.”
Pan has been front and center in California’s recent heated vaccine policy debates. Capitol police even increased security in 2015 after Pan got death threats over his legislation to tighten vaccine requirements.
The senator called out Bennett for seeking “notoriety” by posting the confrontation and keeping up, despite Pan asking to have the video taken down.
“The video may even now be inciting a future assailant who seeks to up the ante with a weapon,” Pan wrote.
Bennett is an anti-vaccine activist and a one-time write-in candidate for Pan’s seat in 2018. He is facing a misdemeanor battery charge for Wednesday’s incident.