On Sunday, a police officer in Louisiana drew widespread crticism when he took to Facebook to repost a fake news article and suggest that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should be shot.
“This vile idiot needs a round—and I don’t mean the kind she used to serve,” officer Charlie Rispoli captioned an article from the fake news site tatersgonnatate.com. Rispoli, a 14-year veteran of the police force in Gretna, Louisiana, alluded to Ocasio-Cortez's former career as a bartender before the post and his account were taken down.
According to the Washington Post, Rispoli's remarks arrive amid a wave of similarly racist and violent social media posts made by police and federal law enforcement. The nonprofit Plain View Project released a database containing thousands of racist, bigoted, and violent social media posts made by current and former police officers, prompting internal investigations across the country.
During an interview, Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson called the post "disgusting" and assured punitive measures would be taken. “I will tell you this: This will not go unchecked,” Lawson told the Times-Picayune of New Orleans. “I’m not going to take this lightly and this will be dealt with on our end. It’s not something we want someone that’s affiliated with our department to make these types of statements. That’s not going to happen.”
Wayne Rau, a city councilman and the mayor pro tem of Gretna, said he was "appalled" by the post and indicated that he doesn't believe it is representative of the local police force.
Ocasio-Cortez is a member of a group consisting of four congresswomen known as "the squad." The members, which in addition to Ocasio-Cortez include, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley, have been targets of Donald Trump's racist vilification in recent weeks. On Twitter, the elected officials were told by the president to "go back where you came from," as he equated being non-white to being non-American.
The polarizing reactions to Trump's nativist, racist, xenophobic campaign have illustrated just how divided the American public is, and have emboldened people like Charlie Rispoli to stand firm in their racist beliefs.