GOP leader asked to resign after discussing “when to shoot a cop”
CAMDEN, SC (WIS) - Police are on a higher alert after the Kershaw County Patriots, a group associated with the tea party movement, posted an article on their Facebook page asking “when should you shoot a cop?” The county Republican Party wants its co-chairman to resign over the posting.
The article showed up on a Kershaw County Patriot member’s page a few weeks ago. A short while later, Kershaw county republican party co-chairman Jeff Mattox clicked that he “liked” the article, which outlines when one should “shoot a cop.”
“That means you took the time to read the article and you wanted to like what it says,” said Kershaw County Republican Party Chairman Chris Oviatt.
Oviatt says he talked to Mattox Monday night by phone and asked him to resign. “We talked briefly, for a few minutes,” said Oviatt. “I told him what was going on, in case he wasn’t aware of how big it broke, and that I’d like him to step down as vice chairman. He told me he’s not going to.”
Mattox couldn’t meet for an on-camera interview Tuesday, but says he doesn’t remember clicking the “like” option on the article. He says the group was having an “intellectual conversation” concerning the article. Mattox says the author was exercising his first amendment rights, and no one should try to take that away.
Since the post, law enforcement in the county are on high alert. “The realization that you have encountered somebody like that should be a sign of automatically calling for backup,” said Camden Police Chief Joe Floyd.
Floyd says he’s given his officers a refresher on what to look out for from groups who don’t recognize law enforcement’s authority. Floyd points to a May 2010 Memphis police shooting where members of a group called Sovereign Citizens gunned down an officer on Interstate 40.
The chief says there was nothing suspicious about the vehicle, which shows officers can never take a stop for granted. “We have knowledge now that some of these ideas exist here in Kershaw County,” said Floyd. “We’re just reinforcing the training that we already put our officers through, just to be watchful and mindful that the potential does exist, that people out there that might want to hurt them.”
Chris Oviatt says those ideas don’t belong inside his party. “We’ve always encouraged our members and officers to have their opinions, but when you talk about doing harm to somebody, that is the line because that doesn’t represent values of the Republican Party,” said Oviatt.
The Kershaw County Republican Party’s executive committee will meet Thursday night to decide Jeff Mattox’s fate inside the party. Maddox says his group is not associated with the concerned citizens, but that he has close ties to the tea party.
Mattox says he does not apologize for the article.