JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri lawmaker said in a Wednesday Facebook post that he hoped whoever placed paint on a Confederate monument in Springfield is found and hanged, prompting Democratic leaders to ask him to step down over what they're describing as a call for a lynching.
"This is totally against the law," Republican Rep. Warren Love wrote in the post. "I hope they are found & hung from a tall tree with a long rope."
Love said his post is no longer up, although the lawmaker told The Associated Press he did not take it down.
Vandalism of the Confederate monument was discovered at the Springfield National Cemetery on Wednesday, at a time when heightened security surrounded President Donald Trump's visit to Springfield to discuss tax policy. The Greene County Sheriff's Department is investigating.
Love, in a response he provided to AP and said he posted on Facebook, later said people had interpreted his post "to be rather harsh and inciting violence." Love is from Osceola, a western Missouri city where fewer than 1,000 people live.
"I did not mean it that way and was only using and old Cowboy Statement that is a western custom of a penalty for Thieves that steal Cattle & Horses," the statement said. "To all who this post offended I am very sorry."
Love, who ranches, told AP the term was a "cowboy slang statement," not a call for lynching.
Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Webber and House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty both said Love should resign. A request for comment to Republican House Speaker Todd Richardson was not immediately returned Wednesday.
"In calling for the lynching of those who vandalized a Confederate statute in Springfield, state Rep. Warren Love invoked a form of political violence used throughout the South to keep African-Americans subjugated for generations following the fall of the Confederacy," McCann Beatty, who is black, said in a statement. "For that he must resign."
McCann Beatty also said Confederate monuments "are monuments to white supremacy; there is no separating the two."
Love said he's a member of both the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and Sons of Confederate Veterans. He sponsored legislation this year and in 2016 that would protect state historic military monuments and other memorials under Missouri Department of Natural Resources control, including Confederate monuments, from being moved or created without public input and an advisory council vote.
He said he meant to point out in his post that "it's terrible when someone vandalizes or desecrates an object of remembrance."
This is the second time in as many weeks that a Missouri state lawmaker has been asked to step down over Facebook posts.
Democratic Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal in mid-August said she wrote "I hope Trump is assassinated!" in response to a post that suggested Vice President Mike Pence would try to have Trump removed from office.
She later took the post down and apologized. She's also refused to resign, despite pressure from top Missouri Democrats and Republicans.