A police officer in Louisiana suggested in a social media post that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should be shot, calling the progressive Democratic congresswoman from New York a "vile idiot."
"This vile idiot needs a round," officer Charlie Rispoli wrote in a Facebook post referring to Ocasio-Cortez last week, according to a screenshot first reported by New Orleans news site NOLA.com on Saturday. "And I don't mean the kind she used to serve," he continued. Before becoming a member of Congress, Ocasio-Cortez worked in a New York City bar as a bartender.
Rispoli, according to NOLA, has been on the Gretna police force since 2005. The department's police Chief Arthur Lawson told the local news site that the post was "disturbing" and appeared to violate the department's social media policy. Although he said he did not believe it was an actual threat against the congresswoman, he promised the situation would be dealt with.
"Whether you agree or disagree with the message of these elected officials and how frustrated you may or may not get, this certainly is not the type of thing that a public servant should be posting," Lawson said.
Rispoli's comments actually came as he shared a link to a false story, attributing a quote to Ocasio-Cortez that the congresswoman had never said. The article was written by the satirical website Taters Gonna Tate and was titled: "Ocasio-Cortez On the Budget : 'We Pay Soldiers Too Much.'" Even the featured image of the article has a watermark clearly stating the content is satire. Snopes.com has also debunked the story, as "false."
It appears from Rispoli's post that he was unaware that the story was satire not based on any actual facts. But the officer has since removed the post and also taken down his Facebook page entirely. Previously his posts were semi-private and were only viewable by friends and sometimes friends of friends, according to NOLA.
Ocasio-Cortez and other freshmen progressive Congresswomen, such as Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts have faced significant criticism and even death threats since taking office earlier this year. Last week, President Donald Trump repeatedly made racist remarks about the four congresswomen, first writing on Twitter that they should "go back" to the countries "from which they came." He added: "you can't leave soon enough."
The president doubled down on the remarks even after Democrats and some Republicans slammed the attack as "racist" and "xenophobic." All of the congresswomen are women of color and three of the four were born in the U.S. as American citizens. Omar was born in Somalia and immigrated to the U.S. as a young girl. She became a naturalized U.S. citizen nearly two decades ago in 2000. Many pointed out that there is a long racist history in the U.S. of people telling non-white Americans that they should return to their countries of origin, even if their families have been U.S. citizens for many generations.
An investigative report by BuzzFeed published last month also found that many police officers across the country had posted to social media to endorse or encourage violence against women, criminal defendents and Muslims. The article by BuzzFeed reported on The Plain View Project, which was launched by Emily Baker-White and looked at the social media accounts of 2,900 current police officers and 600 retired officers representing eight departments nationwide.