Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz equates antifa with terrorists and asks to 'hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East'

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesRep. Matt Gaetz.
  • Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz suggested Monday that protesters demonstrating against police brutality are part of antifa and should be hunted down like terrorists.
  • “Now that we clearly see Antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?” Gaetz tweeted.
  • The Florida congressman is the third Republican official to suggest using violence against demonstrators who have taken to the streets and, in some cases, been subjected to heavy-handed crowd-control tactics by law-enforcement officials.
  • Earlier Monday, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton advocated for using military force against protesters and indicated that they should be shown no mercy.
  • President Donald Trump also implied that protesters should be forcefully subdued, telling governors and law-enforcement officials, “You have to dominate.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida suggested on Monday that protesters demonstrating against police brutality are part of antifa and should be hunted down like terrorists.

“Now that we clearly see Antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?” Gaetz tweeted.

The Florida congressman’s tweet comes amid nationwide protests after the police killing of George Floyd, a black man who died last month after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

Gaetz is the third Republican official to suggest using violence against demonstrators who have taken to the streets and, in some cases, been subjected to heavy-handed crowd-control tactics by law-enforcement officers. Multiple people replied to his tweet saying that they had reported it to Twitter for inciting violence.

Earlier Monday, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton advocated for using military force against protesters and indicated that they should be shown no mercy.

“We need to have zero tolerance for this destruction,” Cotton wrote, calling protesters “Antifa terrorists.”

“And, if necessary, the 10th Mountain, 82nd Airborne, 1st Cav, 3rd Infantry – whatever it takes to restore order,” he added. “No quarter for insurrectionists, anarchists, rioters, and looters.”

“No quarter” is a military term that means a commander will not accept the lawful surrender of an enemy combatant and suggests the captive will instead be killed. The practice is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.

President Donald Trump also called for forcefully subduing the protests.

“If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time,” Trump said on Monday during a phone call with governors and law-enforcement officials. “They’re going to run over you. You’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.”

At one point, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said, “We have to be careful, but we’ve got to be tough.”

Trump responded: “You don’t have to be too careful, and you have to do the prosecutions.”

“When someone’s throwing a rock, that’s like shooting a gun,” the president said. “We’ve had a couple of people badly hurt with no retribution. You have to do retribution, in my opinion. You have to use your own legal system. But if you want this to stop, you have to prosecute people.”

Trump did not address the nation over the weekend as protests rocked the country and public unrest continued to build, but he posted several tweets blaming “anarchists” and “Antifa” for the demonstrations.

On Friday, the president was taken to an underground bunker as protests outside the White House escalated, CNN reported. The National Guard was also deployed in Washington over the weekend at the Pentagon’s request to help maintain order near the White House.

Eliza Relman contributed reporting.

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