CHICAGO (AP) — A former Illinois congressman said Friday he's standing by a Twitter post he sent after the fatal shooting of police officers in Dallas in which he said President Barack Obama should "Watch out" and "Real America is coming after you."
Joe Walsh told The Associated Press on Friday he didn't intend to incite violence against Obama or anyone else.
"That's just stupid, and even worse than that, that would be wrong and reprehensible," he said.
The one-term Republican congressman and syndicated radio talk show host from suburban Chicago is known for his often-provocative comments.
He posted the tweet Thursday night after five police officers were killed and seven wounded in an ambush-style attack during a protest of fatal shootings of black men by police in Minnesota and Louisiana.
It also stated, "This is now war" and "Watch out black lives matter punks."
The post quickly went viral, with celebrities such as singer-songwriter John Legend and others criticizing Walsh and suggesting he should be arrested for threatening the president.
"When you believe 'Real America' does not include the President of America, you might be a racist," Legend wrote in a subsequent post referencing Walsh.
Walsh said at least 1,000 people contacted him saying they reported him to the FBI or Secret Service. As of late Friday morning he hadn't heard from authorities, though he said he alerted local police because he has been "bombarded" with online threats and "hate" and he fears for his safety.
Walsh said Twitter froze his account after the controversial post, and that the company told him he could only use the account again if he agreed to let them remove it, which he did. The post is no longer on Twitter.
A Twitter spokesman said he couldn't confirm that chain of events because the company doesn't comment on individual accounts. But he said a Twitter rule states that users "may not make threats of violence or promote violence."
Walsh was continuing to post on Twitter, repeating his belief that there is a war on police, that Obama and groups such as Black Lives Matter have caused it and that it's time to "fight back."
"I don't believe we go kill people," Walsh told AP. "I mean that we march and we boycott and we protest and we stand with our cops."