By: Tarik Johnson
Twitter locked the campaign account of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday, after posting a video of protesters screaming obscenities outside McConnell’s Louisville, Kentucky home. The account @Team_Mitch posted the video on August 6th in a thread that has since been removed by Twitter. Another tweet in the thread says, “These threats go far beyond a political cartoon or a broken shoulder, they are serious calls to physical violence and we’ve alerted law enforcement.”
Kevin Golden, McConnell’s campaign manager told the Courier Journal, “this morning, Twitter locked our account for posting the video of real-world, violent threats made against Mitch McConnell. This is a problem with the speech police in America today. The Lexington Herald-Leader can attack Mitch with cartoon tombstones of his opponents. But we can’t mock it. Twitter will allow the words of ‘Massacre Mitch’ to trend nationally on their platform but locks our account for posting actual threats against us," Golden added. "We appealed and Twitter stood by their decision, saying our account will remain locked until we delete the video."
According to the New York Post, about 20 to 30 gun control supporters demonstrating outside McConnell’s home shouted things like, “Murder Turtle!” Chanelle Helm, Black Lives Matter Louisville leader said that McConnell should have “broke his little raggedy wrinkled-ass neck,” referring to the fact that McConnell is currently recovering from a fractured shoulder after tripping and falling at his Kentucky home on August 4th. Louisville metro police confirmed that the group was outside the senator’s residence, telling The Post they were “protesting peacefully.” However, the department was unaware of the threats being made on the two-hour Facebook Live video. The protest outside his house lasted about two hours. Louisville Metro Police spokesman Dwight Mitchell said there were no arrests.
Twitter spokesperson Katie Rosborough said “The user was temporarily locked out of their account for a Tweet that violated our violent threats policy, specifically threats involving physical safety.” Twitter's policy states that users "may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people" and that the social network prohibits "the glorification of violence." McConnell’s campaign posted the video Tuesday morning after his campaign traded jabs with freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who slammed McConnell after young supporters of his were pictured “groping and choking” a life-sized cardboard cutout of her.
The incident drew Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin’s attention as he got into an argument with Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. Bevin wrote on Twitter, “Seriously, @louisvillemayor? Stop embarrassing the city of Louisville and the Commonwealth of Kentucky by allowing this public disorder...Would you stand for this on your street? Doubt it... We deserve better leadership in @louisvillekygov.” Fischer responded tweeting, "Seriously, @GovMattBevin, in America we allow for peaceful assembly and freedom of speech. Sorry if that embarrasses you. Let’s get to work to stop the tragic loss of so many lives in our country due to gun violence."
While Bevin and Fischer were going at it Tuesday morning on Twitter, McConnell spokeswoman Stephanie Penn issued a statement for the senator. "Liberal activists like the Democratic Socialists of Louisville know how to try to create good street theatre, and as an avid supporter of the First Amendment, Senator McConnell believes that all citizens have the right to express their opinions peacefully," the statement said. "I hope Senator McConnell’s neighbors weren’t too inconvenienced."