A Republican government official in Florida joked about running over protesters outside of President Donald Trump’s rally in Orlando next Tuesday, where Trump will officially announce his 2020 re-election campaign.
The joke, which evoked painful memories of the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one woman was killed after a man drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, was immediately met with outrage.
Bryan Lober, who was elected to represent District 2 on the Brevard County Commission, made various inappropriate jokes in a now-deleted Facebook thread on Wednesday, according to The Orlando Sentinel. He and other Republicans accused Brevard Democratic Chair Stacey Patel of raising funds to protest the Trump rally leading several conservatives to joke about running over protesters.
“Word of wisdom to the protesters, Beware of Dodge Chargers!” wrote one resident, appearing to make reference to the Charlottesville attack. (The driver in that attack was driving a Dodge Challenger.)
“I wouldn’t recommend using a snow plow. It might look intentional,” Lober responded. He ended the sentence with a winking emoji face with its tongue stuck out.
Patel provided a screenshot of the thread to ThinkProgress and several local reporters.
Patel also captured and shared another deleted comment from Lober, in which he said Patel should have an abortion because her kids would be “a scourge of humanity.”
“I’m not typically a big abortion proponent but in Patel’s case, I might look the other way as I can only imagine what a scourge of humanity (and on our economy) her offspring would prove to be given that her litter would likely be raised with an entitlement mentality, zero work ethic and taught the hypocritically racist and sexist position that the white man is evil,” Lober wrote.
Lober told The Orlando Sentinel his comments were made in his “individual capacity” not as an “elected official.” He claimed that his comments were “intended to be anything but facetious.” He also claimed his joke about running over protesters was actually referring to an incident in Massachusetts, where a snowplow driver splashed anti-Trump protesters.
Patel called Lober inappropriate and said his comments were dehumanizing.
“To refer to my potential children as a ‘litter’ and a ‘scourge on humanity’ is truly beyond the pale. I’m saddened that our national politics has normalized such discourse, and I truly hope that our neighbors, regardless of party, won’t stand silent while such poison seeps into our community,” Patel told ThinkProgress by email.
“It’s also deeply troubling that our community has elected a county commissioner who believes it’s appropriate to joke about the murder of those exercising their First Amendment rights,” she added.
Patel told ThinkProgress she had previously asked the Commission to “censure” Lober for his “incivility” toward residents, whom he allegedly called “stupid,” ”rodents,” “trash,” “ants” and “evil.”
So far, no action has been taken.