Missouri police union slams Eric Greitens ‘RINO hunting’ ad

‘This deplorable video has no place in our political system and sends a dangerous message that it is somehow acceptable to kill those who have differing political beliefs,’ police union says

Former Governor of Missouri Eric Greitens runs advert where he breaks into home

Missouri Republican Senate candidate Eric Greitens is facing condemnation from the state’s largest police union after posting a controversial ad that many critics said encouraged violence against his political enemies.

On Monday, Mr Greitens shocked social media with an ad that depicted him with a shotgun accompanied by a heavily armed squad of med in tactical gear as they breached an empty house and declared “RINO”-hunting season, referring to “Republicans in Name Only”. The ad comes as Mr Greitens is facing a number of other conservatives in a Republican primary for the US Senate seat held by retiring Sen Roy Blunt.

After its publication Facebook moderators opted to ban the ad from its platform entirely while Twitter administrators allowed it to stay up with a content warning.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Missouri chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police made clear that it agreed the ad was encouraging violence against Republicans deemed insufficiently conservative for the party, a charge lobbied against many political opponents of Donald Trump. Mr Greitens is endorsed for the Senate by the former president.

“This deplorable video has no place in our political system and sends a dangerous message that it is somehow acceptable to kill those who have differing political beliefs,” said the union.

The blistering statement went on to condemn “in the strongest possible terms this video and the inherently violent message it sends” while savaging Mr Greitens himself for learning “nothing from the legal problems he experienced prior to resigning as Missouri’s governor”.

Many speculated that the video’s intent was to trigger reactions and enforcement from Twitter and Facebook’s moderators, allowing the Republican candidate to claim that he was being censored. But the statement from the Missouri chapter of the FOP, the nation’s largest police union, is indicative that the content of the ad may have crossed a line and angered conservatives as well.

Mr Greitens is favoured to win the seat in November should he prevail in the state’s 2 August primary, given the state’s right-leaning bent. However, his election would by no means be guaranteed given the significant political baggage his campaign already faced even before this week’s controversy.

The Trump-endorsed Greitens remains accused of domestic violence by his ex-wife as he continues to fight an ugly public custody battle in Missouri’s court system, an accusation he has denied. He also faces lingering criticism over the circumstances which led him to resign in 2018 after it was reported that he had engaged in an affair with a woman before threatening her to keep her silent.

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