WASHINGTON — After hundreds of thousands of Americans marched Saturday to protest gun violence, Iowa 4th District Rep. Steve King turned to social media to ridicule some of the most outspoken survivors of the mass shooting last month at a Parkland, Fla., high school.
In one post, King targeted 17-year-old Emma Gonzalez, a Parkland survivor and gun control activist who was one of the featured speakers at Saturday’s March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. Other marches were held across the country, including one in Sioux City, the largest city in King’s district.
“This is how you look when you claim Cuban heritage yet don’t speak Spanish and ignore the fact that your ancestors fled the island when the dictatorship turned Cuba into a prison camp after removing all weapons from its citizens, hence their right to self defense,” King said in a post on his re-election campaign’s official Facebook page, alongside a photo of Gonzalez wearing a Cuban flag patch on one arm of her jacket.
In a subsequent post, King’s page denied it had bullied the student, saying it was focusing on the communist regime that has ruled Cuba with an iron fist for decades.
After Saturday’s rally, “Team King” also mixed it up with Facebook users who criticized the Republican congressman in the comments section. At one point a poster suggested the campaign had deleted the Gonzalez post.
“Did you lose this, King? Maybe you can add this to your resume when you’re voted out of office in November,” a commentator called J.c. Wilder said in a post along a screen shot of the congressman’s original post.
“Did we ‘lose’ it?” Team King responded. “Uh, no... it’s still on the page. And spoiler alert: the congressman is widely projected to win by a land slide.”
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“Team King” also clicked “like” on at least two posts comparing Gonzalez and fellow student David Hogg, who also spoke at Saturday’s rally, to communists, according to the New York Daily News.
King is the latest conservative voice to target Gonzalez, Hogg and other Parkland students who are outspoken advocates for gun control measures that include a ban on assault-style semi-automatic rifles like the one a 19-year-old shooter used to kill 17 students and staff members. The Parkland students also have lashed out at the National Rifle Association and elected officials like King who have received campaign contributions from the pro-gun organization.
“The NRA ‘bought’ the congressman’s vote with a paltry sum of $11,500 over a two year period, eh? Riiiiight,” Team King said in a Facebook post. “The congressman was adamantly pro-gun long before the NRA wrote any checks. And even if he wasn’t, you should know that $11,500 doesn’t buy anything in DC. But those are just silly facts that stand in the way of your conspiracy theories, huh?’’