Washington Post by Peter Holley December 12
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves to the crowd Saturday at the University of South Carolina, Aiken Campus, in Aiken, S.C. (ERIK S. LESSER/European Pressphoto Agency)
The co-chair of the Colorado Springs chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado has stepped down after posting a statement on Facebook that mentioned shooting Donald Trump supporters.
Loring Wirbel, who wrote that Donald Trump supporters should be told “I will have to shoot you before election day,” told the Colorado Springs Gazette Thursday that the post was misinterpreted, but he understands why people found the statement offensive.
“It was intended totally as a joke,” Wirbel said. “They are taking that stuff out of context. It’s smear politics.”
Wirbel’s reference to Trump was posted alongside a USA Today opinion article that accused the Republican front-runner of using fear to grow his popularity, according to the Gazette.
“The thing is, we have to really reach out to those who might consider voting for trump and say, ‘this is Goebbels,’ Wirbel wrote, comparing Trump to the infamous Nazi propagandist. “This is the final solution. If you are voting for him I will have to shoot you before election day.’ They’re not going to listen to reason, so when justice is gone, there’s always force, as Laurie would say.”
Wirbel’s resignation was set in motion when Daniel Cole, executive director of the El Paso County Republican Party, reposted the ACLU member’s comment on Facebook, according to the Gazette. He questioned whether the rhetoric was appropriate considering Wirbel’s position atop an organization that pushes for free speech and voting rights.
“I think it’s outrageous on its face,” Cole told the paper. “It’s beyond belief that he would think it was acceptable to post something like that.”
Cole added that post was even more troubling because it originated in a community that recently experienced mass gun violence a a local Planned Parenthood clinic. Police accuse Robert Lewis Dear of storming the clinic last month and killing three people, including a police officer.
Wirbel handed in his resignation on Friday, according to the Gazette, but continued to say his statement was strung together from a series of comments he’s made on Facebook, according to ABC affiliate KRDO.
“It’s very clear that wasn’t my belief, that we shouldn’t do that type of thing,” he told the station. “That was all put together with comments from a bunch of different threads and presented as one unified whole as if I was the one advocating that Trump supporters should be shot which is just not me. I don’t believe in violence against people.”
A statement released by the ACLU of Colorado said the organization “did not condone” Wirbel’s post.
“Our members, supporters, and volunteers are free to express their own personal views and opinions in their personal lives. We have fought for decades to preserve that right, as well, for all Coloradans, no matter how strongly we disagree with the content,” the statement says.
— ACLU of Colorado (@ACLUofColorado) December 11, 2015