As debate continues over what to do with Confederate statues, one Missouri state representative has spurred outrage, condemnation, and even calls for his resignation after appearing to suggest a controversial form of punishment for those caught tinkering with historic memorials. In a controversial social media post published Wednesday, Missouri State Rep. Warren Love seemed to suggest those who vandalize Confederate monuments should be lynched.
"This is totally against the law," Love reportedly wrote in a Facebook post containing a link to an article regarding the vandalism of a Confederate monument at Springfield National Cemetery in Springfield, Missouri. "I hope they are found [and] hung from a tall tree with a long rope."
The backlash to Love's comment, which quickly disappeared from Facebook, was almost immediate.
"Vandalizing property is wrong, but hoping for people to be hung/lynched over it?? Way over the line!!" Missouri State Rep. Shamed Dogan, who the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports is the only African-American Republican in the Missouri state legislature, tweeted along with a screenshot of Love's Facebook post.
Others called for Love, a Republican serving Missouri's 125th District, to resign. "This is a call for lynching by a sitting State Representative," Chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party Stephen Webber wrote in a tweet published Wednesday. "Calls for poltical [sic] violence are unacceptable. He needs to resign."
Missouri House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty and Missouri's U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill also called for Love's resignation. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Rep. Beatty condemned Love's comments, arguing they "invoked a form of political violence used throughout the South to keep African-Americans subjugated for generations following the fall of the Confederacy." In a statement of her own, Sen. McCaskill described Love's comments as "unacceptable."
But Love has since sought to clarify that he wasn't calling for a lynching in his controversial post. "I did not mean it that way and was only using and [sic] old Cowboy Statement that is a western custom of a penalty for Thieves that steal Cattle & Horses," the Missouri state representative said in a statement provided to the Associated Press. "To all who this post offended I am very sorry."
In a separate statement to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Love claimed his remark was merely "an exaggerated statement."
"That's just a western term and I'm very much a western man," he said. "You know, I wear a coat. You know, I dress western. And, you know, I'm the cowboy of the Capitol." Love went on to say he felt it was "disturbing" to see "objects of remembrance" like the Confederate monument at Springfield National Cemetery desecrated and vandalized.
Paint was thrown on a Confederate monument inside Springfield National Cemetery, the Department of Veteran affairs told KY3. Missouri's Greene County Sheriff's Department is investigating the incident.