Louisiana police officers who joked that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “needs a round” have been fired

AOC subsequently accused the president of “sowing violence” and “creating an environment where people can get hurt”

By Matthew Rozsa
Published July 23, 2019 9:27AM (EDT)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

A pair of Louisiana police officers involved with a Facebook post suggesting that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., should be shot have been fired by their superior.

Charlie Rispoli and Angelo Varisco were fired from the Gretna Police Department in Louisiana for their involvement with the Facebook post, according to a report from The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate.

In the post, which has been subsequently taken down, Rispoli called Ocasio-Cortez as "a vile idiot” and said that she "needs a round, and I don't mean the kind she used to serve," a reference to the days when Ocasio-Cortez worked as a bartender. Varisco then clicked "like" on Rispoli's post, a reaction used to indicate agreement.

Rispoli's post "has been an embarrassment" to the force, explained Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson at a press conference, and his termination was the direct result of what he wrote.

"These officers have certainly acted in a manner which was unprofessional, alluding to a violent act to be conducted against a sitting U.S. (congresswoman) — a member of our government. We are not going to tolerate that," Lawson said.

This echoed his observations earlier this week that Gretna officers were required to receive diversity training and taught how to appropriately use social media.

In a tweet responding to the social media post, Ocasio-Cortez wrote that "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 added, "The President is sowing violence. He’s creating an environment where people can get hurt & he claims plausible deniability."

This is not the first time that Ocasio-Cortez has had to speak out against death threats. After a minor league baseball team showed a video comparing her to dictators like Fidel Castro and Kim Jong-un, Ocasio-Cortez posted a series of tweets explaining how incendiary right-wing rhetoric has caused her to receive threats against her life on a regular basis.

"What people don’t (maybe do) realize is when orgs air these hateful messages, my life changes bc of the flood of death threats they inspire. I‘ve had mornings where I wake up & the 1st thing I do w/ my coffee is review photos of the men (it’s always men) who want to kill me," Ocasio-Cortez explained in her tweet.

In a pair of follow-up tweets, Ocasio-Cortez wrote that "I don’t even get to see all of them. Just the ones that have been flagged as particularly troubling. It happens whenever Fox gets particularly aggressive + hateful, too. Young interns have to constantly hear hateful messages (far beyond disagreement) from ppl we don’t even rep. All of this is to say that words matter, and can have consequences for safety. For those who believe in 'free speech': whose free speech do you believe in? Bc some folks using free speech to defend racism are also supporting folks passing laws to allow running over protesters."

This also is not the first time that Ocasio-Cortez has been the seeming target of law enforcement opprobrium. Earlier this month, it was revealed that members of Border Patrol had created a Facebook page that used vulgarities and other demeaning language to insult Ocasio-Cortez, including a photoshopped picture of her forcibly performing oral sex on President Donald Trump.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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