Nevada Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak and his wife Kathy were threatened in a restaurant by two men who accused him of being part of the "New World Order." The men said they would "hang" him and mocked the fact he was dining without his security detail.
The Sisolaks—who had been planning to meet their daughter at the Lindo Michoacan restaurant in Las Vegas—were left shaken by the incident, especially in light of the fact the men directed racist language at his wife, who is of Chinese descent.
Cellphone video posted to social media showed a man in a red T-shirt reading “Cannabis and Combat” who asked Sisolak for a picture and put his arm around him before insulting him.
The encounter was captured on the video below.
The video shows a man telling Sisolak that he "can’t tell you what a piece of f*cking sh*t you are" and referring to him as a "New World Order traitor piece of sh*t b*tch."
Insults are later directed toward Kathy Sisolak and there are references made to hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug some conservatives believe is a cure for COVID-19, and China which many conspiracy theorists allege manufactured COVID-19 in a laboratory.
The man wearing the "Cannabis and Combat" T-shirt was later identified as Justin Andersch, who posts rightwing conspiracy theories on a podcast whose title is the same phrase. He bragged about the incident on the podcast and was arrested shortly afterward.
Many took to social media to condemn the incident.
The incident is perhaps the most high-profile one amid a spate of recent hate crimes that are being investigated in Las Vegas. Last year, an elected official erroneously declared that Kathy Sisolak has family members in China who have profited from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Anti-Asian sentiment and hate crimes have seen an uptick since the pandemic was politicized by former President Donald Trump and his administration, who regularly referred to the virus as "the China virus."
Last year, a study published in TheAmerican Journal of Public Health found Trump’s rhetoric led to a rise of anti-Asian sentiment online.
The study, which reviewed 1.2 million hashtags during the week of March 16, 2020––the first time Trump used the phrase “China virus” in a post––found that there was a “massive increase” in use of the hashtag #chinesevirus in reference to the Covid-19 pandemic. #chinesevirus eventually overtook #covid19 in popularity.