Politics

In Facebook Posts, Congressman Aaron Schock’s Press Secretary Compared African Americans To Zoo Animals

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UPDATE

Rep. Schock accepted Cole’s resignation on Thursday.

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In a series of Facebook posts obtained by ThinkProgress, the senior adviser for policy and communications to Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) posted racial comments and endorsed gentrification of his neighborhood.

Benjamin Cole, a former Baptist pastor and energy industry spokesman, posted a series of videos and comments on October 13, 2013 mocking two African Americans outside his DC apartment. In the first, he compared them to animals escaping from the National Zoo engaged in “mating rituals.” That message included a video of a woman, shouting and seemingly engaged in an argument with someone not visible as she walked. In each of his posts, he used the hashtag “#gentrifytoday.”

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The National Zoo was closed that week due to a federal government shutdown.

The posts appeared to have been removed Wednesday.

Later that year, Cole described witnessing a shooting of “one of the hood rats on my street” by “another hood rat.”

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In a 2008 article for BaptistNews.com, Cole scolded other Baptist pastors for their racist reactions to Barack Obama’s victory, but acknowledged, “During the course of the past year, I too have been forced to wrestle with my own prejudices. At times, I’ve joined the bigoted banter and helped to scratch the old wounds of racism.”

Last month, he posted on Facebook describing an issue he’d had with an African American police officer after being assaulted by an African American female.

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ThinkProgress repeatedly emailed both Cole and Schock’s chief of staff to request comment. Neither has responded as of press time.

UPDATE

BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski unearthed some additional Cole posts on Thursday, including a follow-up comment on his post from January about his interaction with a DC policewoman. In it, he wrote that he is “all too worried about the deportables, as you know. I am doing, however, my absolute best to put as many Black criminals who live and loiter on my street behind bars. And if I found any White, Hispanic, Arab, Aleutian, Islander, or other such race causing mischief in my neighborhood, I would pursue their arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment as well.”

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