A Pennsylvania county commissioner is facing calls to resign for calling Black Lives Matter a “radical left-wing hate group” — but he says has no plans to step down over the controversial comments.
Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale said members of the organization were among those who committed “urban domestic terror” during protests he characterized as a riot that involved looting over the weekend in Philadelphia.
“This organization, in particular, screams racism not to expose bigotry and injustice, but to justify the lawless destruction of our cities and surrounding communities,” Gale said in a statement Monday. “Their objective is to unleash chaos and mayhem without consequence by falsely claiming they, in fact, are the victims.”
Gale, a Republican, also accused the “radical left” of demonizing police officers and law enforcement officials for years.
“As a result of this defamation and character assassination, as well as a complicit media constantly pushing the bogus narrative of systemic police brutality and white racism, law enforcement is afraid to do their job of protecting innocent people and their property,” Gale said.
Blowback to Gale’s comments was swift, as members of the Norristown Borough Council are now demanding he leave his post as one of Montgomery County’s three elected commissioners, NBC Philadelphia reports.
Philadelphia 76ers small forward Tobias Harris also called for Gale to step down Tuesday.
“I honestly can’t believe what I’m reading,” Harris tweeted. “Black Lives Matter a hate group?! This statement and your whole press release at that is disgusting to read. RESIGN!”
But Gale insisted Wednesday he wouldn’t step down, saying he “will not be bullied and pushed around for speaking the truth” and exercising his First Amendment rights, he told NBC Philadelphia.
Gale also downplayed an online petition with more than 76,000 signatures calling for his resignation, claiming it was comprised of “left-wing activists” from across the country.
“It’s no reflection of the voters who elected and re-elected me,” Gale told the station. “Millions of signature could have been collected demanding President Obamas resignation when he was in office and the same could be done now against President Trump.”
In 2016, Gale declared himself among the first politicians in the state to support Trump for president, NBC Philadelphia reports.
Asked if Harris’ take would have an impact on his decision, Gale told the station: “I have not watched the Sixers since Allen Iverson left.”
At least 429 people were arrested by police in connection with the weekend vandalism, city officials told NBC Philadelphia Monday.
District Attorney Larry Krasner said most of those arrested were city residents between the ages of 18 and 24 who were not associated with police brutality protests in Philadelphia in the aftermath of Floyd’s May 25 death in Minneapolis.
“I think it would be fair to describe most of these as looting cases,” Krasner said. “They are often situations in which people are caught inside of a store … within Macy’s or at some other location.”
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