Missouri state Rep. Warren Love (R) faces demands that he resign after saying he hoped those who damaged a Confederate monument would be lynched.
In a Facebook post Wednesday, Love shared a news story about red paint being thrown on a memorial to Confederate soldiers in the Springfield, Missouri, National Cemetery.
“This is totally against the law,” Love wrote. “I hope they are found & hung from a tall tree with a long rope.”
Lynching, obviously, is also “totally against the law,” and Love’s endorsement of this racially charged form of violence drew swift condemnation from lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle.
State Rep. Shamed Dogan, the only black Republican in the Missouri legislature, called Love’s comment “way over the line.”
Stephen Webber, chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party, demanded that Love step down from his office.
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) agreed, saying in a statement that Love “should resign for his unacceptable comments.”
In subsequent interviews, Love apologized for offending people with his language while pushing back against accusations that he was calling for someone to be lynched.
“That was an exaggerated statement that, you know, a lot of times is used in the western world when somebody does a crime or commits theft,” Love told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “That’s just a western term and I’m very much a western man. … You know, I dress western. And, you know, I’m the cowboy of the Capitol.”
Love also claimed his angry response wasn’t because the vandalism targeted a Confederate memorial, but because some “low-life” had committed the act on the hallowed ground of a cemetery.
Love does not plan to delete the post, he told The Kansas City Star. He did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Vandals have struck a number of Confederate monuments in recent weeks, following clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, sparked by the city’s plan to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a local park. One woman was killed and at least 19 more were injured when a white supremacist allegedly plowed his car into a group of people protesting the rally supporting the statue.
The violence spurred a renewed political debate about racism, hate groups and the continued memorialization of Confederate figures in public spaces.
The city of St. Louis had already begun work on removing controversial Confederate monuments in June. But concerns over racism and discrimination in Missouri extend beyond tributes to Civil War-era figures.
Last month, the NAACP voted to issue a travel advisory warning people of color, women, members the LGBT community and people with disabilities that “they may not be safe” in Missouri. The measure was a response to recently enacted legislation that made it more difficult to prove discrimination in legal disputes concerning housing or the workplace.
The advisory took note of a study showing that black drivers were 75 percent more likely to be pulled over by law officers in the state than white drivers in 2016. It also decried “racial and ethnic” disparities in key areas across the state, and condemned Missouri’s “long history” of “violent and dehumanizing” racial discrimination and harassment.