The firearms debate in the US has become even more rancorous with an anti-gun activist convicted of spraying fake blood on the front steps of the home of the National Rifle Association (NRA) chief political lobbyist.
Chris Cox, who lobbies the US administration and politicians on behalf of the NRA, wasn’t at home when University of Nebraska-Lincoln sociology professor Patricia Hill sprayed a red sticky substance outside his house in Alexandria, Virginia. But his wife and two young children were.
The matter wasn’t actually described as blood. Mr Cox said it was “some sort of blood-like substance” while security guard Wyatt Delaney, who witnessed the offence, likened it to a “red gel-like substance,” the Washington Post reported.
For her conduct, Hill appeared to be let off exceedingly lightly when she was convicted of misdemeanour property damage in the Alexandria General District Court. She was fined $US500 and ordered not to contact the Cox family and stay 500 feet from their home. Failure to comply could cost her another $US500.
The prosecution said the motive was that Mr Cox worked for the NRA. “She doesn’t like that. That’s fine. She can exercise her First Amendment right,” said assistant Commonwealth attorney Maana Parcham. However, she said Hill crossed the line by committing criminal vandalism, which greatly distressed the Cox family.
Hill’s lawyer said she planned to appeal on grounds it was dark and raining so Mr Delaney could not have reliably identified her. Mr Delaney said he saw Hill walk by, first in a dark coat and hat and later in exercise clothing. He said he recognised her from a photo from a similar incident in October 2017 last year. Furthermore, she was caught on surveillance video spraying the steps.
At the time of the incident Hill was under a temporary court order restraining her from approaching Mr Cox’s wife’s business or the NRA offices in Virginia and Washington. Following her court appearance, Hill was served with a warrant on another vandalism charge in October 2017.