State Sen. Mike Regan involved in physical altercation with protester: Video

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

State Sen. Mike Regan was involved in a physical altercation while on his way to a Harrisburg political fundraiser in an encounter that was caught on video.

The Camp Hill Republican, who represents portions of Cumberland and York counties, is seen on the video moving a protester from his path as he entered Rubicon, an upscale restaurant that was hosting a fundraiser on Tuesday for fellow state Sen. Scott Martin, R-Lancaster.

In an interview with The York Dispatch, the protester in the video — Michael Bagdes-Canning, who ran as the Green Party's candidate for lieutenant governor in 2022 — said he believed Regan singled him out in order to get through the group. Bagdes-Canning walks with a cane.

"I think he decided I was the most vulnerable point in the line," he said.

Bagdes-Canning, 69, said he was charged with disorderly conduct following the altercation. He was considering his own legal options as of Thursday.

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In the video provided by progressive activist Sean Kitchen, Regan is shown walking down North Street in Harrisburg toward the restaurant. The lawmaker encountering Bagdes-Canning, who walks with a cane, kneeling in front of the entrance in a white hazmat suit to protest pollution and environmental policy. Regan, a former U.S. marshal, grasps Badges-Canning with his left arm and pull him away from the door as another unidentified man walking with Regan opens the door to Mangia Qui, an affiliated Harrisburg restaurant that shares the space with Rubicon. Regan then steps over Bagdes-Canning to enter the restaurant.

"Get your hands off of him!" a woman screamed from off-camera as Regan grabbed Bagdes-Canning. After the door to Rubicon closed, Bagdes-Canning was able to get back onto his knees.

Video of the encounter shows state Sen. Mike Regan grasp Michael Bagdes-Canning by the shoulder and move him away from the door of the restaurant.

Regan did not respond to requests for comment Thursday on the incident, which was first reported by the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

Jason Ercole, a spokesperson for Martin, described the incident as a "publicity stunt."

"It is disappointing that rather than avail themselves of the opportunity to sit with the Senator’s office and discuss their concerns like adults this group chose to partake in a publicity stunt," Ercole said in a written statement. "Had they taken the opportunity, this group would have learned of Senator Martin’s strong environmental record."

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The fundraiser was in support of Martin, who serves as the Senate Appropriations Committee chairman. He also serves on the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. Attendees paid $1,000 to attend as a guest, $2,500 as a sponsor and $5,000 as a host, according to the event's publicity materials.

The protest organized by Pennsylvania Action on Climate concerned Martin taking campaign donations from energy companies, Bagdes-Canning said.

"I'm very concerned about the world we're going to leave our grandchildren," Bagdes-Canning, who's also the mayor of Cherry Valley borough in Butler County. It is not his first time being arrested while protesting; he was arrested in June during another protest in Harrisburg.

Bagdes-Canning said the protesters call themselves the "toxic cleanup crew" — hence the hazmat suits.

Pennsylvania State Senator Mike Regan introduces Dr. Mehmet Oz during the Doctor Oz for Senate campaign tour stop at Wisehaven Event Center in Windsor Township, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Kitchen said he was not affiliated with the protesters but had gone to Rubicon when he received a text from a friend about the fundraiser and protest. He started filming as Regan approached.

"I had a feeling Sen. Regan might do something, so I had my phone and was just recording the whole entire interaction," Kitchen said. "I was stunned when I watched it. I understand the protest was a little confrontational, but it's still surprising and shocking."

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Pennsylvania Action on Climate spokesperson Beth Taylor said the actions of Regan were uncalled for.

"We were peaceful and we were there because we don't have the $1,000 plus to buy time with Sen. Martin and the other people in the room," Taylor said. "We were there so he could hear our voice, and we were doing it peacefully and non-violently, and to be met with that was uncalled for and shocking."

The York County GOP did not respond to a request for comment.

"For any elected official to put hands on a constituent is reprehensible and grounds for punishment," Chad Baker, chairperson of the Democratic Party of York, said via email Thursday. "He easily could have taken time to listen to those on-site with concerns and do what he was elected to do. Instead, he chose to ignore them and literally push them out of the way to get to those willing to line his pockets with donations."

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Bagdes-Canning said he used a cane before the incident due to back problems. Immediately after the incident, he said he was in "intense pain" for the rest of the afternoon. He was feeling a little better as of Thursday.

"I don't think he did lasting damage in that way," Bagdes-Canning said. "Right now, I'm feeling all right."

In a sense, Bagdes-Canning said, Regan helped the protesters: "I don't think you'd be calling me today if he hadn't done this."

— Reach Matt Enright via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.