This week, two local Republican leaders published and then deleted social media posts which threatened violence in an imminent right-wing clash against Black Lives Matter and Antifa (anti-fascist) activists.
First, Iron County, Utah commissioner Paul Cozzens published a now-deleted picture showing a soldier with a gun and the words: “Warning to BLM & Antifa—Once you’ve managed to defund & eliminate the police, there’s nobody protecting you from us. Remember that.”
An Iron County commissioner spreading his murder fantasies on Facebook like it's no big deal. 😬 #utpol https://t.co/OPcsxJtCIU— Jesse Harris (@Jesse Harris) 1600220249.0
Cozzens later told Newsweek that he never supports violence against protestors but merely wanted to say that “If we defund the police, fathers and mothers will be forced to protect their families and properties which would descend us into anarchy.”
What Cozzens may not realize is that many Black Lives Matter and Antifa activists already believe that police do a terrible job protecting them from right-wing violence. Such activists have sometimes been subject to violence from the police themselves, bringing into doubt the whole question of whether police “protect” them from anything.
Second, Michael Brown — a Republican member of the Johnson County Commission in Kansas City, Missouri — published a now-deleted Facebook message in which he urged his followers to “buy a firearm and ammunition” for “the coming war” that is both “inevitable” and caused by left-wing police reform activists and Democratic leaders who are “silent” and “weak.”
“[This] isn’t a joke or hyperbole,” Brown wrote. “I’d rather fight and die than live in their dictated world.”
At a time when heated rhetoric rarely surprises me, I have to admit shock in seeing something like this from a loca… https://t.co/m3qszt3Rpu— Mayor Q (@Mayor Q) 1600088213.0
In response, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas wrote on Twitter, “At a time when heated rhetoric rarely surprises me, I have to admit shock in seeing something like this from a local elected. Gross distortions; encouraging constituents to prepare for armed war w/political opponents? This is reckless. This is racist. This is wrong. Just stop.”
Brown later said that he had made the post in response to Monday reports of a gunman who opened fire on a parked sheriff’s squad car, killing two officers in Los Angeles. Brown said he was “speaking out against violence and calling on other electeds, community leaders and citizens to do the same.”