A state representative from Illinois has waded into a dispute over a shooting in Waukesha, a Wisconsin community, to post on social media the thoughts of a white supremacists that was “only the tip of the iceberg” of such incidents that “maybe less than 2% are truly criminal”.
Greg Harris, a Democrat from Chicago, posted on Twitter shortly after the shooting that: “I’m told 1/2 of those involved were not even the intended targets of the ambush-style attack.”
Harris went on to make reference to the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case and a shooting that occurred in Philadelphia last year, saying “no one is giving a sh** about that, but a bunch of Unitarians clubbed/shot to death apparently not a big deal”. He concluded his tweet with the line “it’s probably just self-defense”.
He subsequently deleted the tweet after it went viral. After writing an apology and re-tweeting a few of the responses, he then deleted it entirely.
Harris was criticised for the posts and said he regretted the “poor choices of words”.
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But, while the state senator Howard Marklein (R) of Illinois, has tweeted that he understands why people would be offended by the posts, he has not yet said he will challenge the statements by Harris, who is a teacher and serves on the state’s education committee.
Harris, who has over 25,000 followers on Twitter, took to Twitter on Wednesday to respond to a conservative writer named Sarah Ferris, who penned a column about a man who was arrested for selling swords and knives made of gunpowder.
She recounted the story of a teenager “who was arrested after posting a photo on Facebook of himself holding a rifle with a large, long, sharp knife sticking out of the barrel”. The youth, who posted a picture of the rifle through a third party, was charged with “offensive posting”.
Ferris wondered whether a character in a dystopian novel with “apparently terrifying dystopian politics” would also post a picture on Facebook of himself holding a rifle, holding a large, sharp knife that he pointed out.
After pointing out the similarities between the posts, Harris tweeted a link to her story and wrote that he and Ferris were on “the same side”, and saying “Let’s end gun death by drying up drug supply”.
Harris was not the only public figure to make headlines this week for comments on social media that seemed to be aimed at the Waukesha shooting.
Donald Trump, who has expressed his support for Steve Wilson, the owner of the Waukesha gun shop where the shooting took place, has said that law-abiding gun owners would not have their rights infringed by new limitations to their purchase.
“I know people in Waukesha that know Mr Wilson. They know his owners. They know they’re law-abiding citizens. The plan is not that he would raise new restrictions,” the president said in the Rose Garden on Wednesday.
A New York Daily News editorial, however, suggested that President Trump was citing information that was “bogus, not fact-based” and could lead to constitutional issues.