November 9, 2023 | AP News

Federal trial begins for David DePape, alleged conspiracy theorist accused of attacking Paul Pelosi

The federal trial against the man accused of breaking into former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco home, attacking her husband and seeking to kidnap her began this week. The suspect, David DePape, is believed to have been highly engaged in conspiratorial rhetoric including QAnon, 2020 election fraud theories, and more, both online and in the real world in the lead up to the October 2022 attack on Paul Pelosi.

Ahead of the court date on Thursday, ISD’s Head of Threat Analysis and Prevention, Katherine Keneally, spoke to AP News about how the attack is an example of the increasing rise in online hate and conspiracies and how these can influence political violence.

“This didn’t occur in a vacuum,” she said, explaining how those “who commit such conspiracy-fueled acts of violence often are struggling with mental health or other life crises, such as the death of a family member or a divorce.”

“I can’t think of a single case where someone engaged in violent behavior where they were solely influenced by the conspiracy theory,” she said.

Conspiracies often appeal to people’s pre-held beliefs mixed with legitimate grievances.

The AP News wire has been re-published on NBC News, the New York Post, El País, and more.