U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins came under fire Wednesday after threatening to shoot armed Black protesters in a now-deleted Facebook post.
"Fair warning," the Louisiana Republican, a former police captain, wrote in a Tuesday post that included a photo of armed Black men at a Black Lives Matter rally in Louisville, Kentucky. "I wouldn't even spill my beer. I'd drop any 10 of you where you stand."
Here’s Clay Higgins threatening to shoot on sight a Black militia rumored to be coming to LFT. And here’s the militia that showed up. Higgins appears to have deleted the post. pic.twitter.com/yfzg7iZJh4
— Christiaan Mader (@xnmader) September 2, 2020
"Nothing personal," Higgins continued. "We just eliminate the threat. We don't care what color you are. We don't care if you're left or right. If you show up like this... you won't walk away. That's not a challenge, fellas, it's a promise. We don't want to see your worthless ass and we don't want to make your mothers cry."
Facebook told the Acadian Advocate that it removed Higgins' post for violating its policies against promoting or inciting violence.
"I did not remove my post," Higgins wrote on Facebook on Wednesday. "America is being manipulated into a new era of government control. Your liberty is threatened from within... I'll advise when it's time, gear up, mount up, and roll out."
Correction: Higgins implies FB removed the post. Says he did not delete it. pic.twitter.com/DhUw7GuPFZ
— Christiaan Mader (@xnmader) September 2, 2020
Higgins' comments drew a stinging rebuke from one of his congressional colleagues, as Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) said Wednesday that the Republican's "dumb and reckless Facebook post requires serious condemnation."
Richmond accused Higgins of staging a "clear adolescent ploy designed to stoke fear, incite violence, garner social media clicks, and raise money for his campaign."
"He should be calling for a thorough and transparent investigation into the shooting of his constituent Taylor Pellerin," said Richmond, referring to the 31-year-old Black man fatally shot by Lafayette police on August 21. "But considering his own record of police misconduct... I won't hold my breath."
"[Higgins'] comments were disappointing but not surprising," Richmond continued. "My colleague still has not learned that words have consequences, especially when they come from supposed leaders."
"This is the same man who criticized the use of protective face coverings, yet coronavirus infections continue to spread throughout his congressional district," added Richmond.
Shreveport, Lousiana Mayor Adrian Perkins (D) slammed Higgin's comments as "racist, violent, and divisive."
I fought for this country & our right to peacefully assemble. There’s NO place in our politics for racist, violent, & divisive speech. Real leaders denounce hate. I reject @RepClayHiggins call to violence clearly and unequivocally, and challenge @SenBillCassidy to do the same. pic.twitter.com/zvgdSROUDA
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Higgins, whose nickname is "Wild," has been a vocal supporter of the Second Amendment and of expanding gun rights throughout his career. Explaining his co-sponsorship of a 2017 bill legalizing the interstate concealed carry of handguns, he wrote that "every American that (sic) can legally possess and own a weapon, and carry in whatever manner, should have that protection in every state across the nation."
"I will always vote to defend and uphold Second Amendment rights for all Americans," Higgins vowed.
Louisiana is an open-carry state. Higgins is regularly seen wearing a handgun.
Critics accused Higgins of hypocrisy for loudly defending gun rights for "all Americans" while threatening to kill armed Black men exercising their constitutional rights.
"Our conclusion can only be that what's good for white people is not good for Black people in Higgins' Ramboworld fantasies," wrote the editors of the Acadian Advocate.
Higgins' threat came ahead of a Tuesday evening Black Lives Matter demonstration in Lafayette to protest the Pellerin shooting. The Acadian Advocate reported that the event was peaceful, with 40-50 armed members of the Louisiana Cajun Militia present. One of the group's leaders, Michael McComas, said he wanted to protect protesters from white supremacist militants who were rumored to be traveling to Lafayette to disrupt the demonstration.
The Louisiana Cajun Militia has showed up. They told protesters who are grilling they’re here to make sure those protesters can protest how they want. pic.twitter.com/rZUftybJvl
— Ashley White (@AshleyyDi) September 1, 2020
While armed Black people are a rare sight at protests, white militias and vigilantes have shown up at Black Lives Matter demonstrations over 500 times this year, according to Alexander Reid Ross of the Center for Analysis of the Radical Right. Police have often embraced their presence, including when officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin praised armed vigilantes and threw a bottle of water to Kyle Rittenhouse, who would shortly after allegedly kill two protesters and injure a third with an assault rifle he illegally transported across state lines.
You can find the newest map update at the link below. We are now at around 523 incidents of far-right intimidation, violence, and harassment of anti-racist protesters in 307 counties since around May 26.https://t.co/270EqAytYR pic.twitter.com/Hsi45rh0KD
— Alexander Reid Ross (@areidross) September 2, 2020
This isn't Higgins' first incendiary statement. In 2017 the Christian fundamentalist posted a video on YouTube from the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland to promote an "invincible" U.S. military, and he has also compared women who choose to abort pregnancies to the genocidal extermination of Jews during the Nazi Holocaust.
It's also not the first time Higgins has threatened to shoot someone. According to court records, he allegedly made such a threat against his ex-wife Eloisa Rovati Higgins.
"He put a gun to my head before, during, an argument," she claimed in 1991. "He threatened that if I ever came near the house he would shoot me."