While eating lunch at the Mineral City Mill and Grill in Fort Dodge, Iowa, on Friday, Rep. Steve King — the Iowa Republican who has made a series of statements embracing white nationalism — got a face-full of water from another restaurant patron, authorities said.
Blake Gibbins, 26, of Lafayette, Colo., was in Fort Dodge visiting family, according to a news release from the local police. Gibbins approached the table where King and others were eating and asked the congressman if he was the Steve King.
When King said, “Yes,” Gibbins threw a glass of water on the representative, Fort Dodge police said.
The act was politically motivated, authorities said, but did not elaborate.
King and another man who was hit with the water, Burlyn Pecoy of Fort Dodge, were not injured.
Gibbins was arrested after the 12:30 p.m. incident and charged with two counts of simple assault and one count of disorderly conduct, all misdemeanors, police said.
Gibbins did not immediately return a request for comment. Neither did King’s office.
King was sharply criticized the day before the incident, after he compared Iowans’ response to historic flooding to that of the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
“We go to a place like New Orleans, and everybody’s looking around saying, ‘Who’s going to help me? Who’s going to help me?’ “ King said during a town hall Thursday in Iowa, observations he claimed workers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency told him about relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina struck the city in 2005, resulting in at least 1,800 deaths.
But when Iowans were recently confronted with historic flooding, King said they did not rely on government handouts as Katrina victims did — a comment that some say played into racist tropes about black Americans.
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“We go to a place like Iowa, and we go see, knock on the door at, say, I make up a name, John’s place, and say, ‘John, you got water in your basement, we can write you a check, we can help you,’ “ King said. “And John will say, ‘Well, wait a minute, let me get my boots. It’s Joe that needs help. Let’s go down to his place and help him.’ “
King was one of 11 members of Congress to oppose a bill providing federal aid to Katrina victims in 2005.
In January, King was removed from his House committee assignments after he questioned in an interview with the New York Times why white supremacist terminology was “offensive.”
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King told the Times. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
King later released a statement calling himself a “nationalist” who supports “western civilization’s values” but said he did not advocate for “white nationalism and white supremacy.” “I want to make one thing abundantly clear: I reject those labels and the evil ideology they define,” the statement said.