GOP lawmaker: I was only joking about buying ammunition to shoot protesters

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Michigan state Rep. Gary Eisen posted a photo on social media of several magazines of ammunition days before a planned NAACP protest.

Michigan state Rep. Gary Eisen (R) claimed he was just having some fun when he posted a photo of ammunition and promised to purchase more in light of a planned protest, the Port Huron Times Herald reported on Tuesday.

"I was at my shop this morning working, and an older guy came in," Eisen wrote on Facebook on Saturday. "We started talking about the protesters and the riots... He said 'You know all those protesters are Liberals' I said 'how do you know that' .... he said 'Liberals look for trouble and civil unrest and Conservatives PREPARE for it' hmm ,, so i thought maybe I will load up a few more mags...."

The comment was accompanied by a photo of multiple kinds of ammunition.

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Eisen told the Times-Herald that he "just made a joke," and the post "was never meant to be malicious." He said others were "tak[ing] it out of proportion."

MLive.com reported that Eisen posted his "joke" days before nearby rallies organized by the NAACP and Black Lives Matter were to take place.

Alphonso Amos, chair of Black Lives Matter Port Huron, told the Times Herald he was "so disheartened" a local politician "would think that would be appropriate, knowing what's been incited." Amos called for Eisen to resign, saying, "We're trying to push our community forward. For this to have partisan politics in play is sickening."

Protests organized by the NAACP and Black Lives Matter were part of rallies around the world opposing racist police brutality following the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minnesota who died last week after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes.

Eisen did not appear to post publicly on Facebook about armed protesters who visited Michigan's Capitol in late April to demand Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, reopen state businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Eisen's comments were part of a larger trend of violent rhetoric by conservatives against protests held nationwide for racial justice.

In Virginia, Republican state Sen. Amanda Chase encouraged gun owners to be "on alert" for protesters.

On Monday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) called for protesters to be killed in the streets, a tweet so egregious that Twitter put a warning on it notifying readers that it "glorified violence."

That same day, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) encouraged Donald Trump to deploy the military on U.S. soil in order to quell protesters, saying, "let's see how these anarchists respond when the 101st Airborne is on the other side of the street."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.