Cotton: People stuck behind Gaza cease-fire protesters should ‘take matters into your own hands’


Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) raised a controversy Monday after he encouraged those dealing with streets blocked by protesters to “take matters into your own hands,” appearing to encourage violence.

Protesters against the American response to the Israel-Hamas war shut down multiple highways across the country Monday, including blocking the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, as well as near Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

The demonstrators backed up traffic for miles and created rush-hour headaches for Americans while advocating against the Biden administration’s support for the Israeli military offensive in Gaza.

Cotton denounced the protests in a post on the social platform X, falsely claiming the protesters were “pro-Hamas.”

“I encourage people who get stuck behind the pro-Hamas mobs blocking traffic: take matters into your own hands,” he wrote on his personal account. “It’s time to put an end to this nonsense.”

The senator edited the post minutes later, clarifying that people should “take matters into your own hands to get them out of the way.”

Former President Obama’s speechwriter Jon Favreau was among those who blasted Cotton’s post.

“Just a U.S. Senator calling for vigilante violence,” he wrote on X, later adding that the senator’s edit “doesn’t do much to fix” the post.

The remarks drew comparison to Cotton’s controversial 2020 op-ed in The New York Times titled “Send in the Troops,” in which he advocated for the use of the National Guard to quell nationwide protests that came in response to the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

Following mass criticism from readers and its own staff for publishing the piece, the Times later admitted Cotton’s op-ed “fell short of our standards and should not have been published.”

Weeks later, Cotton publicly called on the Department of Justice to bring charges against what he called “mob vigilantes,” referring to people who defaced or destroyed statues — usually statues of Confederate figures or slave owners.

“We cannot tolerate mob rule, and we cannot allow it to go unpunished,” he said in 2020. “And soon enough, the mob may come for you and your home and your family Mob rule can only serve to demoralize our people and shake their faith in our government and our way of life. As the mob rises, civilization recedes.” 

The Hill has reached out to Cotton’s office for comment.

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2024-04-16 12:43:00

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