In addition to proposing a bill to abolish the EPA, Freshman Congressman Matt Gaetz is making headlines this week for his refusal to condemn supporters who have threatened to perform violence in his name.
In January, Gaetz announced a planned day of public events on February 23, calling it “#OpenGaetz” day. As many other Republican congressman are experiencing, these events are prime opportunities for angry constituents to make their voices heard in this difficult political environment.
Protests quickly organized, intent on making it clear that Gaetz’ constituents are not okay with his plan to gut the EPA. The bulk of the protests are to be concentrated at Gaetz’ lunchtime event at Grover T’s BBQ in Milton. It is there that a group of counter-protesters are expected to arrive, possibly bearing firearms and ammunition.
A local agitator, Geoff Ross, posted on his Facebook account, urging local militia members to arrive at Grover T’s on the day of the event with their concealed weapons in tow. Ross also encouraged those who supported Gaetz not to leave their ammo behind.
“I need all patriots in attendance to protect Congressman Gaetz from any potential disruption of his speech. Concealed carry permit holders most welcome – don’t forget your ammo.”
In response to this clear threat, concerned constituents appealed to Gaetz, expecting him to condemn the threats of violence in his name. Instead, Gaetz called Ross a “friend,” and accused the liberals in his district of overreacting.
“Everyone is welcome to attend and participate in a peaceful, non-disruptive manner. That is exactly what my friend Geoff Ross intends to do. My liberal friends should know that not every gathering of Republicans exercising their rights is dangerous.”
When Gaetz isn’t writing one-lined bills intent on dismantling vital parts of the U.S. government, he spends his time on Twitter, fawning over the President and making snide remarks to those who disagree with him.
“He’s a political punk,” Said Attorney Mike Papantonio who lives in Gaetz’s district.
Now that Gaetz has repeatedly refused to condemn the violence being threatened in his name, the planned protest both for and against him are rife with increased tensions. There is also no word yet about what local law enforcement intends to do about the threat made by Ross.
Gaetz is showing his complete lack of experience here, while also showing what politics look like in the era of Trump. If something were to happen to a peaceful protester who merely wants to reach out to their congressman to express their views? The freshman congressman will have more than the blood of the EPA on his hands.