After talking to more than 70 members of Congress along with her youth voter advocacy group, freshman Marianna Pecora approached one last U.S. representative outside of the Capitol Building to inquire about gun safety legislation.
Pecora and her colleagues walked with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., for a little more than a minute, as they asked the far-right congresswoman about her opposition to the legislation. After Greene’s staff herded Pecora away from the right side of the congresswoman, Pecora shifted in front of her to ask about her defense of the Second Amendment.
Seconds later, Greene appeared to kick Pecora multiple times.
I’m the Deputy Communications Director @VotersTomorrow and our team is in DC this week to lobby for youth rights.
— Marianna Pecora (@MariannaPecora) September 15, 2022
“The second one was intentional,” Pecora said in an interview. “And I was just shocked.”
Pecora, who majors in political communication, has been the deputy communications director for the national advocacy organization Voters of Tomorrow since January and spent the majority of last week on Capitol Hill talking to members of Congress about Gen Z engagement and youth rights. Pecora said her group noticed members of the House Freedom Caucus, a right-wing group of representatives including Greene, delivering a press conference Thursday afternoon after Voters of Tomorrow’s last meeting of the day.
“We saw the House Freedom Caucus was doing a press conference, and we didn’t meet with any of their offices during our meetings,” Pecora said. “And so we stopped and waited for them to finish so that we could ask them some questions about the issues that we cared about.”
Pecora and several members of Voters of Tomorrow tweeted the video of Greene appearing to kick Pecora later that afternoon, which has amassed more than two million views and more than 7,000 retweets. National publications like the Washington Post and NPR covered the incident, and several Democratic-leaning Twitter users tweeted the video, including gun safety activist David Hogg and Star Trek actor George Takei.
“We were not expecting it to be a national news story,” Pecora said. “I’m a little bit overwhelmed, but I’m not a big fan of hers, so I am glad that people are finding out that she’s not that good of a person.”
Pecora said Greene called her a liar when she asked the congresswoman why she kicked her. Hours after Pecora’s tweet, Greene posted the same video Thursday where she insisted that “‘gun-free’ zones kill people.”
“These foolish cowards want the government to take away guns and the rights of parents to defend their children in schools,” Greene said in the tweet.
Greene’s office has not responded to a request for comment. Her office has denied the apparent kick to NPR despite sharing the video.
Pecora said Voters of Tomorrow is currently working with their counsel to discuss the possibility of pressing charges against Greene and said that if legal action is taken, it would be taken as a group and not by any individual member.
Pecora said Greene acted “like a child,” and she and her group were acting respectfully toward her before the incident. She said she had met with U.S. representatives from both parties earlier in the day, none of whom treated her disrespectfully in the earlier meetings.
“It’s incredibly disheartening,” Pecora said. “She’s a member of Congress. She should have to hold herself to some sort of standard. The standard should be above kicking people.”
Pecora said she hopes the largest effect of the incident is increased mobilization and energy among potential young voters and advocates. She said Voters of Tomorrow has “definitely seen an increase” in membership applications since the initial video went viral, and she and two other members of the group who are also GW freshmen are planning to start a chapter at the University.
“I hope that the biggest effect that this has is that it gets more people to sign up for our text banks and our phone banks,” Pecora said.
Pecora said despite the reaction to the video on social media, she didn’t want to “glorify” the incident because she felt her organization’s work on Capitol Hill was more critical than her interaction with Greene. She said students looking to advocate should “center on action,” and she is proud of her organization for the work they did last week.
“We had a team of 16 people running around from Senate office buildings to House office buildings, back and forth,” Pecora said. “I really do want to put more attention on the fact that we were there to do important work and not the fact that I happened to get kicked by a congresswoman.”