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Covering state lawmakers, bills, and policy emerging from Jefferson City.

Missouri Lawmaker Faces Calls to Resign After Lynching Reference

Warren Love

This story has been updated to reflect comments from Missouri's governor and lieutenant governor.

Another Missouri state lawmaker is being called on to resign after a post on social media, this one hoping harm against vandals of a Confederate monument.   

A large amount of red paint was discovered Wednesday on the structure, located at Springfield National Cemetery. Shortly after news of the vandalism broke, Republican Rep. Warren Love of Osceola wrote on Facebook, "This is totally against the law. I hope they are found & hung from a tall tree with a long rope."

Some of Missouri’s Democratic leaders are calling for Love’s resignation. They include Party Chairman Stephen Webber and House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty.

"In calling for the lynching of those who vandalized a Confederate statute in Springfield, state Rep. Warren Love invoked a form of political violence used throughout the South to keep African-Americans subjugated for generations following the fall of the Confederacy," McCann Beatty, who is black, said in a statement. "For that he must resign."

On Thursday morning, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri said Love “Should resign for his unacceptable comments.”

Love told the Associated Press the term was a "cowboy slang statement" and not a call for lynching. Speaking to the Springfield News-Leader, Love said his comment was stupid. He also acknowledged it would spark calls for his resignation, which Love said he has no plans of doing.  

"To all who this post offended I am very sorry. However I do believe it is very serious when a Cemetery or Object of remembrance is desecrated or vandalized and the penalty needs to be increased from a misdemeanor to a felony," his statement to the paper read.   

Earlier this month, it was Democratic Sen. Maria Chappell-Nadal of University City receiving calls to step down over her Facebook comment hoping President Donald Trump would be assassinated. She later took the post down and apologized. She's also refused to resign, despite bipartisan calls for her to do so. One senator, Bob Dixon (R-Springfield), recently stated he would not vote her out.

Gov. Eric Greitens tweeted his response Thursday, saying “First, Sen. Chappelle-Nadal called for POTUS to be assassinated. Now, Rep. Love has called for people in Missouri to be hanged from trees.”

Missouri’s lieutenant governor, Republican Mike Parson, also says Love should face consequences.

“Regardless of the context or situation, no elected official should call for violence against anyone. I agree with Governor Greitens that Representative Love must face the consequences for his actions,” said Parson.

Parson is leading an effort to expel Sen. Chappelle-Nadal from office. But his statement Thursday stopped short of such action against Love.

Parson said he hopes House members will "follow the Senate's lead and help ensure a return to civility in political discourse."

The Wednesday incident came as security efforts were focused on President Donald Trump’s visit to the city to discuss tax reform. The Greene County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that it had recently been contacted to provide off-duty security at the National Cemetery in response to vandalism occurring across the country to historic monuments. The vandalism appears to have occurred between when the department was alternating shifts with a privately contracted security firm. No other monuments were damaged or vandalized, the county said.  

"Despite one's difference in opinion or attempt to make a political statement, vandalism is still a crime," Sheriff Jim Arnott stated.

An investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to call the Greene County Sheriff's Office Tip Line at 417-829-6230.

Follow Scott Harvey on Twitter: @scottksmu

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