On November 14, the man accused of a 2022 hammer attack on former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband pleaded not guilty, apologized in court for his actions, and explained that Gamergate first exposed him to right-wing conspiracies.
On October 28, San Francisco police arrested David Depape, 43, after he broke into Pelosi’s home looking for her. Instead, however, he found her husband, Paul Pelosi. After asking where his wife was, Depape reportedly attacked Pelosi with a hammer. Pelosi was able to call 911, police eventually arrived, and arrested the attacker, and Pelosi was taken to the hospital, as he suffered multiple hand injuries and a fractured skull. In court on Tuesday, Depape claimed he wanted to talk to Nancy Pelosi about corruption and Russian involvement in the 2016 election. He also testified that he planned to “break her kneecaps” if she lied.
As reported by the Associated Press, Depape testified in court that he often played video games for up to six hours a day while listening to multiple political podcasts. According to Depape, he first was drawn to right-wing conspiracies after hearing of Gamergate, an online harassment campaign and hate movement against women that started in 2014 and never really ended.
Previously, it was reported that Depape’s now-deleted website included a message from the accused attacker connecting him to Gamergate. This is now seemingly confirmed.
Gamergaters often claimed they were fighting for “ethics in games journalism” but that was never true. The movement never engaged in criticism of journalism, instead it was just a way for a bunch of angry, toxic people to come together and weaponize their hatred by attacking women online. Many were also upset that video game outlets were spending more time covering diversity, feminism, and politics.
Gamergate offered a glimpse of the future
It would be incorrect to say Gamergate invented right-wing extremism or lunacy. But in 2014, Gamergate did provide us an early look at how these groups would use the internet to spread their message and harass people far and wide in the coming years.
With the rise of Donald Trump and his cult of right-wing conspiracists in 2017, we saw these groups follow the Gamergate playbook: using online social media, YouTube, and other internet platforms to spread their lies, bigotry, and toxic ideas quickly to millions of people around the world.
And as these groups continue to be forced to deal with reality—stuff like Trump lost the election and the covid-19 vaccine is safe—they’ve become more and more hostile and violent, leading to attacks like the one carried out last year by Depape against Paul Pelosi.
On Tuesday in court, DePape pleaded not guilty to attempted kidnapping of a federal official and assault on the immediate family member of a federal official with intent to retaliate against the official for performance of their duties.“I reacted because my plan was basically ruined,” he said when asked why he hit Pelosi. “He was never my target and I’m sorry that he got hurt.”