Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) fired off an incendiary tweet Monday, asking if the U.S. can “hunt” down members of the left-wing anti-fascist group antifa. “Now that we clearly see Antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?” the Republican lawmaker said. Twitter on Monday restricted the Florida lawmaker’s tweet for violating its policies against glorifying violence—but did not remove it.
Later on Monday, Gaetz doubled-down on his shocking suggestion, tweeting that the United States “hunt[s] down terrorists in the Middle East by having our government (not vigilantes) monitor their communications, freeze their money and stop them from committing attacks.” “American lives, businesses & property are more deserving of our strong protection than distant sand dunes,” Gaetz said, before stating in another tweet: “Governments go after terrorists. Individuals don’t. We—the government—should continue to do so. And Antifa is rightly on the list! Speak against riots hurting Americans.”
Gaetz’s violent rhetoric comes hours after Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) urged President Donald Trump to deploy active-duty military personnel to cities in the wake of nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd. On Sunday, Trump claimed that the U.S. government will designate “antifa” as a terrorist organization after the president blamed them for riots across the country. “Anarchy, rioting, and looting needs to end tonight,” Cotton said, adding, “if local law enforcement is overwhelmed and needs backup, let’s see how tough these Antifa terrorists are when they’re facing off with the 101st Airborne Division.”