Two police officers in Louisiana were fired Monday after one wrote a Facebook post suggesting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should be shot and the other liked it.
Officer Charles Rispoli wrote in the post last week that the progressive freshman is a “vile idiot” who “needs a round … and I don’t mean the kind she used to serve,” an apparent reference to Ocasio-Cortez’s former job as a bartender. Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson told reporters Monday that Rispoli – along with Officer Angelo Varisco, who “liked” the post – had been fired.
“This incident, we feel, has been an embarrassment to our department,” he said.
The incident underlines not only the outsized attention Ocasio-Cortez has drawn as the face of an evolving Democratic Party, but also a heated political climate in which Capitol Police say threats against members of Congress continue to climb.
Ocasio-Cortez responded to Rispoli’s post, which was first reported by The Times-Picayune-New Orleans Advocate, by tying the language to President Donald Trump’s recent racist attacks against her and three other congresswomen of color. Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow freshmen congresswomen – known as “the Squad” – have been engaged in a personal and public feud which has escalated as Trump has continued to criticize them in an effort to paint the Democratic Party as far-left. The congresswomen, especially Ocasio-Cortez, have taken to social media to defend themselves against Trump’s attacks.
“This is Trump’s goal when he uses targeted language & threatens elected officials who don’t agree w/ his political agenda. It’s authoritarian behavior,” she tweeted Monday. “The President is sowing violence. He’s creating an environment where people can get hurt & he claims plausible deniability.”
CNN was not able to reach Rispoli for comment. The Gretna Police Department and The Louisiana Fraternal Order of Police did not return CNN’s calls for comment.
Rispoli’s Facebook post was in response to a satirical article that featured Ocasio-Cortez saying, “We pay soldiers too much” – something the congresswoman hasn’t said. It’s unclear whether Rispoli knew he was responding to a satirical article.
Lawson said Monday the Facebook post “violated our policy, it was in a nature that certainly was not supported by our agency and, promoted violence.”
The police chief also added: “I spoke to him personally just to try to find out why. I just couldn’t understand and I think he just got caught up in the heat of the moment,” he said. “I mean this wasn’t even a real news article.”
Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said in a hearing before the House Administration Committee earlier this month that cases opened to assess threats against members of Congress “continue to grow.”
“For FY 2018, we had approximately 4,894 cases. So far for this year, we have 2,502 cases,” Sund said. “So we’re on par to probably break last year’s record.”
This story has been updated.