On Friday, just over a week after comparing Black Lives Matter protesters to Nazis, outgoing Congressman Steve King tweeted at Governor Kim Reynolds to “marshal the forces” in order to prevent a protest planned Saturday afternoon at the state Capitol.
The protest takes aim at “monuments to white supremacy in Iowa,” specifically on Capitol grounds and including a Christopher Columbus bust on its south lawn. It was organized by the Indigenous organization Seeding Sovereignty along with eight other groups including Des Moines Black Lives Matter, according to its event notice on Facebook.
Although the description of the event makes clear that the intent of the protest is to remain peaceful and demand the removal of several monuments by presenting a letter to state lawmakers, King framed the protest as a “planned riot,” linking to a blog post about it written by longtime supporter Jacob Hall.
“#BLM is now a terrorist organization in league with #antifa,” he tweeted, comparing the Black Lives Matter movement to antifa, which is not an organization but an anti-fascist organizing strategy. “@KimReynoldsIA you must marshal the forces to block this planned riot, arrest & prosecute violence perps, & turn them away…EVERY time! This doesn’t stop until they lose on the field EVERY time.”
The protest’s description criticizes President Trump’s executive order directing law enforcement agencies to prosecute protesters who deface federal monuments. However, it also urges attendees to “not take actions that will put Brown and Black folx in jeopardy.”
After the event was posted on Facebook, another event was scheduled at noon — an hour ahead of the protest — by a group called Iowa Patriots, which, like King, described Black Lives Matter protesters as “terrorists” and claimed they planned to tear down the Columbus bust. “We prefer if you are to go armed that you please conceal,” the event description adds. The URL for the Iowa Patriots Facebook page includes the characters “IAPAT3PERCENT,” a reference to the far-right Three Percenters militia movement associated with white supremacists.
Friday wasn’t the first time King suggested Black Lives Matter protesters were terrorists, either. On June 10, he shared a tweet from far-right commentator Candace Owens calling the movement “a terrorist group funded by white Democrats.” The congressman last month also decried how protesters in other cities had torn down statues of controversial historical figures including Columbus, calling their actions “a war on Western Civilization” — a term he’s frequently used before as coded language to support his white nationalist views.