Who Is Lynne DiSanto? The South Dakota Republican's "All Lives Splatter" Meme Sparked Intense Backlash
If you thought President Trump's recent retweets on Twitter were bad, consider the meme one South Dakota Republican lawmaker posted to their Facebook page. Rep. Lynne DiSanto shared an "All Lives Splatter" meme that shows an SUV running over people with the words below that take on the right to peacefully assemble. "Nobody cares about your protest," one lines read, followed by, "Keep your ass out of the road." The politician shared the image on Sep. 7 and faced calls for an apology on Tuesday. She apologized to The Rapid City Journal by telephone later that day.
Even before apologizing, DiSanto took down the post in which she had written the comment, "I think this is a movement we can all support," with the hashtag #AllLivesSplatter, a crass take on the Black Lives Matter movement and the white backlash to it, All Lives Matter.
But according to the South Dakota Democrats Party Executive Director Sam Parkinson, the damage had already been done and more had to be done to make up for the "insensitive" post. "The right to peaceably assemble is fundamental to our democracy — so fundamental, in fact, it is included in the First Amendment to our Constitution," Parkinson said in a statement.
"Whether one supports the cause of protesters or not, sharing an image promoting running them over is offensive and beneath the dignity of the office Rep. DiSanto holds," Parkinson added. "Even though she removed the image from her Facebook page, she still owes the people of South Dakota an apology." The post comes less than a month after a protestor in Charlottesville, Virginia, was run over by a white supremacist.
DiSanto acknowledged the national political atmosphere in her apology. "I am sorry if people took offense to it and perceived my message in any way insinuating support or condoning people being hit by cars,” DiSanto told The Rapid City Journal. “I perceived it differently. I perceived it as encouraging people to stay out of the street.”
An even stronger condemnation came from Lori Miller, the spokesperson of the group Indivisible Rapid City. She called it not only an incitement of violence but also racist. "To put up a meme that pretty much encourages violence and possibly murder, that's inappropriate. She's a community leader and an elected official," Miller told USA Today. "Not only is she inciting violence, she is targeting a certain race of people."
It doesn't seem there will be any lasting effect for DiSanto's political career. South Dakota House Majority Leader Lee Qualm, a Republican, said that she will still serve as majority whip next session. There haven't been any calls from either party that she step down from her position. Qualm made excuses for her. "I don't think that will have an impact," Qualm told USA Today. "Obviously I think she wishes she had not put it out there, but she was quick to pull it down and it seems like one of those things you do without putting much thought into it."
There have been consequences for her, though. Keller Williams Realty Black Hills, where DiSanto has been working, fired her. (Rapid City Journal reported that her bio page on the South Dakota Legislature website listed "Realtor" as her occupation.) "Due to recent events, Lynne Disanto is no longer associated with Keller Williams Realty Black Hills," they posted to their Facebook page.
South Dakota passed a controversial law earlier this year that hampers protestors' ability to protest in "restricted zones." This was a response to the Keystone XL pipelines which successfully halted the construction of the pipeline, until Trump won the presidency and reversed Obama's decision to reroute it. The anti-protestor bill includes previsions that fine protestors for entering a highway and stopping traffic.