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Blake Gibbins, a political activist from Boulder, has been accused of throwing water at Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King at a restaurant. The incident occurred in the afternoon of March 22 in Fort Dodge, Iowa, about 100 miles northwest of Des Moines. The Fort Dodge police said in a statement that the controversial congressman was eating lunch with friends when Gibbins, 26, doused King in water. The incident came one week after Gibbins’ father tragically passed away. Gibbins was in Iowa to visit family.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Authorities Have Said the Incident Was Politically Motivated
Kim Reynolds, Lieutenant Governor (R-IA), Left, Terry Branstad, Governor (R-IA), Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jeff Kaufmann, Republican Party of Iowa Chairman, and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on stage at the 2nd annual Joni Ernst Roast and Ride event on August 27, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Gibbins has been accused with simple assault and disorderly conduct. He has since been released from Webster County Jail. Police said that Gibbins approached the table at the Mineral City Mill and Grill and asked King who he was. When King identified himself, authorities say Gibbins threw the water, hitting some of the people that King had been eating with. The statement said that the incident was politically motivated and that Gibbins and King are not familiar with each other. The police statement does not mention if Gibbons said anything else to King.
2. Gibbins Is an Adoption Rights Activist
In a video posted on Gibbins’ YouTube channel on March 20, Gibbins identified himself as the head of Not Your Orphan, an activist organization regarding the separation of children from their parents. In the uploaded clip, Gibbins talks about trying to get Senator Bernie Sanders to come to a town hall meeting to discuss the practice of child separation. Gibbins writes in the description of the video, “5 minutes after recording this video, I found out my father had passed away in a car accident (3/12/19). That was one week ago.”
Gibbins says in a blurb about the organization that he is an adoptee. He adds, “The true thread of adoption history, the stories we tell ourselves about it, the ideas and perceptions, they cloud (and sometimes outright conceal) what it’s actually all about. Not Your Orphan is here to fill in the gaps.”
3. Gibbins Is a Graduate of Goddard College & Naropa University
According to his Facebook page, Gibbins is a graduate of Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont, and Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, where he studied Peace Studies. Gibbins describes his gender as being non-binary.
4. Gibbins’ Father Was Killed When the Car He Was Driving Hit a School Bus
KCCI reported on March 12 that Blake Gibbins’ father, Anthony, was killed when the GMC Savana van he was driving crossed the median of Highway 7 in between Fort Dodge and Barnum. Anthony’s car hit a school bus. There were no children on board the school bus at the time. The driver of the bus was taken to a nearby hospital to be treated for his injuries. The crash occurred at 6:45 a.m. with authorities not releasing the cause of the crash.
Shortly after his father’s death, Gibbons wrote on Facebook, “Maybe when someone so close has passed, you just notice more, especially when it occurs in such a violent manner, but it feels like this month has already had so many tragic passings in the world. My heart is with all who have lost someone close to them; we do not live in a world that stops for our pain grief and trauma, and so we have to help one another create those spaces, in every moment, in every day, together.”
5. Gibbins Is Not the First Person to Publicly Accost Steve King
Rep. Steve King’s controversial opinions have seen him be publicly accosted by protesters in the past. In November 2018, during a public forum, King got into a shouting match with a protester who compared King to Robert Gregory Bowers, the suspected Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooter. In June 2018, protesters descended on King’s office in Ames, Iowa, to protest his remarks, although the congressman was not present in his office at the time.