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Top aide to GOP lawmaker deletes Facebook posts comparing black people to zoo animals

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Benjamin Cole (Facebook)

A top advisor to Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) has resigned after comparing black people to animals in a series of racist Facebook posts.

“I am extremely disappointed by the inexcusable and offensive online comments made by a member of my staff,” Schock said in a statement to the Peoria Journal Star. “I would expect better from any member of my team. Upon learning about them I met with Mr. Cole and he offered his resignation which I have accepted.”

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Benjamin Cole, a former Baptist pastor and energy industry spokesman, compared two black people he saw outside his Washington, D.C., apartment to zoo animals after recording video of their argument.

“So apparently the closing of the National Zoo has forced the animals to conduct their mating rituals on my street,” he complained in an Oct. 13, 2013, post that was obtained by Think Progress.

The National Zoo was closed that week as part of the federal government shutdown that Schock helped begin with his vote on a budget measure that would have delayed portions of the Affordable Care Act.

Schock made news earlier this week for his “Downton Abbey”-themed office, which Cole admitted to reporters had “created a bit of a crisis in the office.”

The 38-year-old Cole, who serves as the lawmaker’s senior advisor for policy and communications, posted two video clips of the couple’s argument, along with the hashtag #gentrifytoday.

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He also claimed Dec. 13, 2013, that he watched “one of the hood rats on my street get shot by another hood rat.”

In a more recent post, Cole complained Jan. 29 that a black police officer told him “you white people need to learn” when he reported an assault by another black woman.

All of the posts, which were captured in screen shots, were deleted by Wednesday, and neither Cole nor Schock’s chief of staff responded to requests seeking comment.

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Update: Cole resigned Thursday afternoon.

[Editor’s note: Updated with Cole’s resignation.]

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