This story has been updated.
TEMPE, Ariz. — Kristian Doak was arrested by police Thursday night at an event for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) when he refused to leave after arguing with several members of the AZ Patriots, a conservative group that came to protest Warren’s town hall.
Doak, of Tempe, was handcuffed after he resisted when security at the Marquee Theater asked him to leave. He was forcibly dragged out as reporters filmed.
Jennifer Harrison, a member of the AZ Patriots, said Doak tried to grab the cellphone of a group member recording the event. She also said he threatened to hit her. The AZ Patriot’s Facebook page describes them as citizen journalists and activists who “stand boldly for American values and Conservative principals.”
Doak spent the evening in jail. In a brief interview with The Washington Post Friday afternoon, he denied that he had been violent or threatened violence, saying he only “verbally” attacked the AZ Patriots.
Members of the AZ Patriots wore red “Make America Great Again” hats at the Warren event and unfurled a Trump flag at some point during their protest.
Detective Greg Bacon, a spokesman for the Tempe Police Department, confirmed Thursday night that a man was charged with “assault and disorderly conduct for confronting another subject at the event.”
Harrison said her group came to record Warren’s event and protest “the socialism that she’s peddling.” Warren, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, is running on a message that she’s a capitalist who wants to make structural changes to the economy, politics and government so that it’s more fair for working people.
Harrison said that Warren’s campaign staff surrounded them when they noticed their MAGA gear. She accused Warren’s staff of being “rude” and holding signs in front of them to prevent them from seeing.
The venue security, she said, then asked their group to leave during the event. “No problem, we left peacefully, no problem,” she said. “We respect the law.”
But as the group was being escorted out of the theater, she said Doak became angry with them and tried to grab one of her associate’s phones. Later, when he was outside, she said he “came after me and tried to take a swing at me.” Doak denied this.
“Liberals cannot keep their hands to themselves at these events,” she said. “They see a Make America Great Again hat and they become unglued.”
Doak said he did yell obscenities at the AZ Patriots group, but denied that he lunged at anyone or was violent.
“I came to the event to see Elizabeth Warren, because I do quite like her,” Doak said. “And I think that she’s probably one of the better candidates for the Democratic nomination.”
The protesters, he said, made him angry. “Here we have some white, supremacist . . . who have decided for reasons known only to themselves to show up to for an event for a Democratic candidate for the Democratic primary,” he said.
He said that he was asked to leave the event and was jostled by an overly aggressive security guard who might have pushed him into the AZ Patriots. He said he resisted instructions to leave because he didn’t like the way he was treated. “They started dragging me,” he said. “Okay, fine, drag me out,” he said.
Roughly 3,500 people attended Warren’s event here, according to staff. Unlike her typical town halls, she didn’t take any questions from the audience. Warren told reporters that she chose not to do so because the weather was warm.
As always, she stayed well after giving her speech to take photos with supporters.