Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton calls for violence against pro-Palestinian protesters

Washington DC - Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton sparked outrage after urging people inconvenienced by pro-Palestinian protests to "take matters into" their own hands.

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton called for people inconvenienced by pro-Palestinian protests to "take matters into your own hands."
Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton called for people inconvenienced by pro-Palestinian protests to "take matters into your own hands."  © NATHAN HOWARD / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

The far-right Republican made his alarming call on X Tuesday, seemingly in response to the previous day's coordinated protests organized across multiple major US cities by demonstrators who oppose Israel's brutal war on Gaza.

Thousands turned out in New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, blocking roads and temporarily holding up traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge.

But as the death toll in Gaza nears 34,000, with famine setting, and warnings of war crimes and genocide growing ever louder, Cotton was demanding an "end to this nonsense" – apparently by any means necessary, legal or illegal.

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"I encourage people who get stuck behind the pro-Hamas mobs blocking traffic: take matters into your own hands to get them out of the way," he posted.

Later, Cotton went on Fox News to baselessly claim the protesters were "pro-Hamas" and "antisemitic," before boasting that his home state's citizens would take precisely those vigilante actions he was encouraging.

"If something like this happened in Arkansas on a bridge there – let's just say I think there’d be a lot of very wet criminals that have been tossed overboard, not by law enforcement, but by the people whose road they’re blocking."

Tom Cotton's previous calls for a crackdown on protesters

Cotton has previous form when it comes to calling for violent crackdowns on people turning out for human and civil rights.

In 2020, his New York Times op-ed that proposed siccing the US Army on Black Lives Matter protesters was taken down in a scandal that ultimately led to the resignation of Editorial Page editor James Bennet.

The congressman's latest incitement comes as anti-Muslim incidents in the US hit a 30-year-high in 2023, according to Council of American-Islamic Relations.

Meanwhile, a recent poll shows well over half of Americans now disapprove of Israel's actions in Gaza, including 30% of Republicans.

Cover photo: NATHAN HOWARD / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

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