On Wednesday, the Miami Herald reported that Christopher Monzon, the far-right former white supremacist who was brutally assaulted while canvassing for Republicans in the heavily Cuban-American city of Hialeah, didn't actually tell police he was attacked for being a Republican canvasser — until Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted out, with no evidence, that he was.
"The Republican Party canvasser who was brutally beaten in Hialeah on Sunday did not say the attack was politically motivated when police officers first interviewed him that evening, according to a police spokesman," reported Nicholas Nehamas, Sarah Blaskey, Verónica Egui Brito, and David Ovalle. "An initial incident report said nothing about politics. But on Monday morning, after talking to the victim’s father, Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that the canvasser was attacked 'by 4 animals who told him Republicans weren’t allowed in their neighborhood.'" This claim is already unusual given that Hialeah is a heavily Republican community.
"When Hialeah police re-interviewed the canvasser, Christopher Monzon, hours after the Rubio tweet, he told them he did believe politics played a role in his beating," said the report. "In a sworn statement Monday afternoon, Monzon — who was canvassing for the Republican Party of Florida and has long-standing ties to the white supremacist movement — said one of his attackers told him that 'he could not pass through because he was a Republican,' a police report released late Tuesday shows."
Police initially made clear they had no evidence politics played a role in the attack on Morzon, who once went by the name "the Cuban Confederate," marched with neo-Nazis at the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, and was previously arrested for rushing protesters with a Confederate flag. Diana Rosa Lopez, the mother of one of the attackers and a registered Republican herself, has also disputed the claim, saying, "My son has never voted."
"In an email, a spokeswoman for Rubio said Monzon’s father had told the senator Monday morning that the attack was politically motivated," said the report. "'First you spend two days smearing the victim and now you accuse him of lying,' the spokeswoman, Elizabeth Gregory said in an email. 'You are either dishonest or misinformed. The victim’s father was on Spanish radio on Monday discussing the political nature of this attack. And he told the Senator the exact same thing that morning when they spoke for the first time when the Senator called to check on his son’s condition.'"
Rubio's rhetoric around the attack has been criticized by political observers, with MSNBC analyst Fernand Armani warning that the senator's words could give cover for far-right groups to preemptively commit more violence.
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