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NC lawmaker calls Seattle BLM protesters 'thugs' and suggests police 'shoot' those resisting arrest

NC lawmaker calls Seattle BLM protesters 'thugs' and suggests police 'shoot' those resisting arrest
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A North Carolina state lawmaker called Black Lives Matter (BLM) protestors in Seattle “vermin” in a Facebook post on Monday and suggested those who resist arrest be shot.

In the post, state Rep. Larry Pittman (R) singled out the six-block area of Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood that protesters have established as an "autonomous zone” free of police.

Pittman accused Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) of “betray[ing] the citizens there by allowing the anti-American actions of those ignorant thugs to go unchallenged.”

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“If these domestic terrorists surrender, arrest them, and whatever stolen goods or money you recover from them will go to help the business owners whose places of business have been invaded … If they resist and attack you, shoot them,” Pittman wrote.

Pittman also invoked conspiracy theories about financier George Soros, asserting without evidence he was sponsoring protests.

“These vermin don’t care about George Floyd or any other individual, except maybe their financial sponsor, George Soros,” Pittman wrote. “They are bent on destroying our country and our way of life, and they will use any tragedy, any slogan, any excuse to convince clueless people that their radical injustice is justice.”

Soros's Open Society Foundations recently pushed back on such claims, tweeting that it does not "pay people to protest."

It was not clear whether Pittman’s comments were all specifically in reference to the Seattle protests or to the protests that have swept the nation in general.

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In a statement to The Hill, Pittman emphasized that he was not advocating for use of force against peaceful protesters.

"Peaceful protesters are not criminals. These people have forcibly seized personal and public property. That is a criminal act. I never said shoot protesters," Pittman said in an email.

"In specific reference to Seattle, I have seen news coverage of these people walking around with weapons. What I said was that if they attack the police they should be shot. No one should be shot for peaceful protest."

Pittman, a four-term incumbent, has made inflammatory comments before, including calling for doctors who perform abortions to be hanged in 2012, according to local media.

“This is just the latest in a long series of incendiary and divisive comments from Rep. Pittman, and I’m deeply disappointed that he would choose to incite violence in these already difficult times for so many families,” Gail Young, his Democratic opponent in the 2020 elections, said in a statement, according to the Charlotte Observer. “I’ll be a leader who seeks to bring us together and I’ll work to make sure people in Cabarrus County feel safe and healthy.”

Updated: June 18 at 10:29 a.m.