The Office of Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) told a Peoria newspaper Thursday that the Congressman had accepted the resignation of Benjamin Cole, his senior adviser for policy and communications. The resignation came hours after ThinkProgress first reported on a series of social media posts by the now-former aide comparing African Americans to zoo animals and calling for the gentrification of his neighborhood.
Schock told the Peoria Journal Star “I am extremely disappointed by the inexcusable and offensive online comments made by a member of my staff. I would expect better from any member of my team. Upon learning about them I met with Mr. Cole and he offered his resignation which I have accepted.”
As ThinkProgress reported Thursday morning, 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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
Neither Cole nor Schock’s chief of staff has yet responding to the original ThinkProgress requests for comment.