GOP leaders condemn ‘un-American’ attack on volunteers

Volunteers will continue voter registration drive ‘will not be silenced’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A clearly emotional chairman of the Duval County Republican Party condemned the van attack on volunteers registering voters Saturday afternoon in a Walmart Superstore parking lot.

“We are outraged. This is not who we are. This is un-American," Dean Black said at a news conference Monday. "We are thankful that no one was injured; no one was killed.”

Police said Gregory Timm drove his van through a clearly marked campaign tent in the parking lot of a Walmart Supercenter on Atlantic Boulevard at Kernan Road. Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Lt. Larry Gayle said that the man driving stopped, he recorded a video and “flipped off” the people inside the tent before driving away.

None of the six Trump campaign volunteers registering people to vote were injured.

The woman who party leaders came within 6 inches of being hit by the van gave a thumbs up at the news conference and was headed out Monday to register more voters. She declined to talk about Saturday’s events.

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Joe Gruters acknowledges the volunteer who was almost hit by the van in Saturday's attack on a voter registration tent. (WJXT)

“The coward who attacked us tried to sweep us from the streets. He is not going to be successful. We will return in ever bigger numbers on street corners across America,” Black said. “Remember, the best revenge is victory; righteous, peaceful victory in November for President Trump and all Republican candidates.”

UNCUT: Republican Party leaders condemn attack

Saturday night, Timm, 27, was arrested on charges including aggravated assault on a person over 65, criminal mischief and driving on a suspended driver’s license. At his first appearance before a judge, Timm was ordered held on $530,000 bond.

Booking photo of Gregory Timm (Jacksonville Sheriff's office)

“We don’t know if this is politically motivated,” Gayle said Saturday afternoon. (Watch full JSO briefing)

At Monday’s news conference, Mayor Lenny Curry called the attack “attack outrageous and scary,” but deferred specific questions about the attack to police.

Black and the chairman of the Florida Republican Party, Sen. Joe Gruters, had no doubt about the motivations of the attacker.

“Political violence is adverse to everything this country stands for,” Gruters said.

The local Republican Party, Democratic Party, the state’s two U.S. Senators and President Donald Trump quickly announced on social media that this was a political attack and condemned the violence.

Trump wrote in a Saturday tweet, “Law Enforcement has been notified. Be careful tough guys who you play with.”

Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott posted on Twitter that he was thankful no one was hurt.

"This appears to be a politically-motivated attack on hard-working volunteers in Duval County. Thankful that no one was hurt. @DuvalGOP will not be silenced or intimidated. They will redouble their efforts to support strong Republicans in NE Florida and around the state!"

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio echoed those sentiments in a tweet, “Thanking God that no one was injured in today’s politically motivated attack against @DuvalGOP volunteers today.”

GOP chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said, “These unprovoked, senseless attacks on @realDonaldTrump’s supporters need to end.”

The president of the Duval County Democratic Party also released a statement condemning the attack Saturday night and the party released another statement Monday:

"The perpetrator of this violent and cowardly act should not be used by either side to politicize or demonize fellow Americans. We hope the Duval GOP will join us in asking our fellow citizens to act with dignity, civility and respect for one another during this election cycle and beyond. Acts of violence shouldn’t be politized.”

At Monday’s event, Black condemned anyone who makes excuses for the attack on volunteers. To date, News4Jax has not heard anyone defending the attack.

“Let us recommit to peaceful elections in Jacksonville, across America, for the next 10 months. Forever,” Black said.

Black said he would be discussing safety measures with the mayor and sheriff to see if any changes are needed to protect party volunteers.

About the Authors:

Florida-born multi-media journalist pays special attention to issues in St. Johns County.

Digital election producer in 2022. He created in 1995 and managed The Local Station's website through 2021.