Rep. Larry Pittman, a Republican representative in North Carolina, called protesters in Seattle “thugs” and “vermin,” and encouraged police there to shoot those who resist arrest.
He said that if he was in charge, he’d encourage police to “take back our city,” calling the protesters “domestic terrorists.”
“If they resist and attack you, shoot them,” he wrote.
“Innocent citizens have a right to expect elected officials and law enforcement officers to protect them and their property,” he said. “They also have a right to defend themselves with deadly force if they are able. This is war.”
He rounded off the tirade with the supposition that a frequent boogeyman for the far right, liberal billionaire George Soros, is funding the protesters. He added that none of the demonstrators actually care about George Floyd, the Minneapolis man whose death at police’s hands sparked the nationwide protests.
“They are bent on destroying our country and our way of life, and they will use any tragedy, any slogan, any excuse to convince clueless people that their radical injustice is justice,” he wrote.
He did not immediately respond to TPM’s questions, and told the Raleigh News & Observer that he doesn’t do interviews. Pittman is also a pastor.
The lawmaker, who is currently running for his fifth term, has a rich history of making incendiary comments.
In 2017, he compared Adolf Hitler to Abraham Lincoln in a Facebook post responding to someone criticizing a bill he introduced to make gay marriage illegal in North Carolina.
“Lincoln was the same sort of tyrant, and personally responsible for the deaths of over 800,000 Americans in a war that was unnecessary and unconstitutional,” he wrote.
He later issued a very dubious walk-back. “While both Lincoln and Hitler were obviously bad guys, what Hitler did was worse and I apologize if people thought I was putting them in the same league.”
And in 2011, he urged his fellow assembly members to herald in a return to public hangings, specifically for doctors who perform abortions.
He’s up for reelection in the fall and is running against Democrat Gail Young, a leadership consultant who previously worked in local government, per her website. Young challenged him in 2018 too, falling short with 47 percent to his 53.
“This is just the latest in a long series of incendiary and divisive comments from Rep. Pittman, and I’m deeply disappointed that he would choose to incite violence in these already difficult times for so many families,” Young told TPM. “I’ll be a leader who seeks to bring us together and I’ll work to make sure people in Cabarrus County feel safe and healthy.”