“Every one of us has a constitutional right to protest, to speak our minds,” Cruz told reporters in Iowa at a Monday campaign event, according to NBC News.
“But we don’t have a constitutional right to use force and violence and to threaten force and violence on others,” he said. “And so it is our hope that the protesters there will stand down peaceably, that there will not be a violent confrontation.”
Cruz said he is praying for everyone involved in the occupation, particularly law enforcement officials who “are risking their lives.”
Cruz’s opponent Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) similarly condemned the takeover at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, but told an Iowa radio station that he sympathizes with the movement to shrink the federal land estate.
“You’ve got to follow the law. You cannot be lawless,” Rubio told KBUR in an interview reported by Buzzfeed. “We live in a Republic. There are ways to change the laws of this country and the policies. And if we get frustrated with it, that’s why we have elections, that’s why we have people we can hold accountable.”