A Missouri lawmaker is under fire after saying he hoped whoever is responsible for defacing a Confederate statute is caught — and then hanged.
State Rep. Warren Love (R-Osceola) made the comment Wednesday, Aug. 30, after sharing a link to an article describing the recent vandalism of a Confederate statue in Springfield National Cemetery that vandals had splattered with paint, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported.
The incident angered Love to say the least.
“This is totally against the law,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “I hope they are found & hung from a tall tree with a long rope.”
Backlash against the state lawmaker was swift, as the head of Missouri’s Democratic Party called for Love’s resignation.
“This is a call for lynching by a sitting state representative,” chairman Stephen Webber tweeted. “Calls for political violence are unacceptable. He needs to resign.”
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) agreed, saying Love should step down for his “unacceptable comments.”
Rep. Shamed Dogan, the only Black Republican in the Legislature, posted a screenshot of Love’s Facebook post and publicly denounced it, tweeting, “Vandalizing property is wrong, but hoping for people to be hung/lynched over it? That’s way over the line! What’s wrong with us #moleg?”
House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty of Kansas City also weighed in on the matter, saying in part:
“In calling for the lynching of those who vandalized a Confederate statute in Springfield, state Rep. Warren Love invoked a form of political violence used throughout the South to keep African-Americans subjugated for generations following the fall of the Confederacy, and for that he must resign.”
Amid the outcry over his comments, Love maintained that he wasn’t calling for anyone to be lynched but was rather using “Western” and “cowboy” vernacular.
“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,” the lawmaker, who was first elected in 2012, said in an apology posted to his Facebook page. “That’s just a western term and I’m very much a western man. You know, I wear a coat. You know, I dress western. And, you know, I’m the cowboy of the Capitol.”
“But it’s disturbing when you see objects of remembrance — and they can be anything from memorials to tombstones to, you know, somebody putting a cross on the highway and planting flowers on it — that somebody would be a low-life enough to desecrate it or vandalize it,” he added.
In his post, Love noted that he is a dues-paying member of both the Sons of Union Veterans and Sons of Confederate Veterans groups.
“I try to tell history and protect the integrity and the reputation of both men that served in that terrible war,” he said. “And I want to tell the good, the bad and the ugly.”
Love said he has no intention of deleting his post, but issued a second apology Thursday, Aug. 31.
“I do not in any way support violent or hateful acts toward the perpetrator of the crime,” he wrote in part. “I apologize for using inappropriate and offensive language to convey these thoughts and ask for the forgiveness of my colleagues, constituents, and all Missourians.”