On Friday night, hashtags calling for the firing or resignation of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel began trending on Twitter — and they appear to be directed by both fans of President Donald Trump and, peculiarly, proponents of the so-called “Blue Lives Matter” movement.
Israel has been thrust into the spotlight this week in response to the mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school where suspect Nikolas Cruz used an AR-15 assault rifle to gun down 17 people. Days after, Israel came out in support of a ban on assault-style rifles. On Wednesday, he shouted in the face of National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch during a CNN town hall, accusing her and her organization of “not standing up” for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students and teachers lost to gun violence on Valentine’s Day.
His critical stance on the powerful gun group appears to have made him some right-wing enemies. Just two days after the massacre, Fox News ran an article on a statement he made whose headline read “Florida sheriff Scott Israel says lawmakers ‘won’t get re-elected’ if they don’t push for gun control.”
In the intervening days, right-wing sites have repeatedly published articles critical of Israel, and Twitter has followed suit. Not only are fans of President Donald Trump and pro-gun voters rallying around cries for the sheriff’s removal, but people who ascribe to the racist “Blue Lives Matter” pro-police mentality are as well.
“Sheriff Scott Israel and his Band of Bumbling Broward Buffoons & the FBI are the poster boys as to WHY AMERICANS NEED TO PROTECT THEMSELVES,” an account purporting to be a former chief of the New York Police Department tweeted in response to both Fox News host Tucker Carlson and CNN Friday evening.
Sheriff Scott Israel and his Band of Bumbling Broward Buffoons & the FBI are the poster boys as to WHY AMERICANS NEED TO PROTECT THEMSELVES
— BLUE LIVES MATTER (@sundnce99) February 24, 2018
The @sundnce99 account tweeted more than a dozen times about Israel, often responding to unrelated or loosely-related posts made by other users to berate the sheriff, often in all caps.
SHERIFF ISRAEL SCREWED UP 39 CALLS FOR POLICE HELP AND HE NEVER ONCE ARRESTED CRUZ DESPITE THE CALLS FOR HELP. 1 ARREST WOULD HAVE PREVENTED CRUZ FROM BUYING A GUN. LETS COMPARE 911 CALLS TO FINAL DISPOSITIONS AND INTERVIEW OF COMPLAINANTS
— BLUE LIVES MATTER (@sundnce99) February 23, 2018
The #ResignSheriffIsrael hashtag appears to have been started by Ben Shapiro, the former Breitbart writer and founder of the conservative Daily Wire.
“It seems to me that Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel deserves a hashtag far more than the NRA,” he tweeted Friday night.
It seems to me that Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel deserves a hashtag far more than the NRA. So #ResignSheriffIsrael it is.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 24, 2018
Shapiro has tweeted in support of so-called “Blue Lives” at least once, claiming in late 2014 that “a political infrastructure that defends criminals and lies about cops has blood on its hands.”
A political infrastructure that defends criminals and lies about cops has blood on its hands. #BlueLivesMatter
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) December 21, 2014