Many Republicans spent the weekend denouncing the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and resulting violence as acts of racism perpetuated by white supremacists. The head of the Doña Ana County Republican Party instead lashed out at the left.
“These violent, leftist protesters are the brainless robots that are created by evil Soros money,” Roman Jimenez said in a post on the county party’s Facebook page on Sunday. “The white ones have been taught to hate their color, the women are taught to hate men, black and minorities want to kill whites and police.”
“They then have the audacity to call conservatives racist,” Jimenez wrote. “Their own racism, hate and violence has created the divide amongst those that refuse to be bullied on anymore. They’re getting exactly what they asked for. A segregated society of groups that they’ve created and even labeled themselves.”
The state Republican Party denounced the Facebook post from one of its county party chairs.
“The Republican Party of New Mexico fully repudiates the statement made by Roman Jimenez, which does not reflect the views of the Republican Party of New Mexico or the Republican Party of Doña Ana County,” state GOP Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi said. He also tweeted that he was praying for the victims of violence in Charlottesville.
Las Cruces City Councilor Ceil Levatino, a Republican, said the Doña Ana County Republican Party “clearly needs new leadership.”
“There are no words strong enough to express my outrage, disgust and disappointment at the comments made by the chair of the Republican Party of Doña Ana County,” Levatino said. “His comments do not reflect my personal views nor do I believe they represent the views of the majority of county Republicans about the Charlottesville tragedy.”
In response to the firestorm of criticism, the county GOP wrote in a Facebook comment that Jimenez’s post wasn’t about the events in Charlottesville. “I’m speaking about leftist violence across the country. Murder by Anyone is inexcusable,” that comment stated. In another comment, the party wrote, “Of course I condemn white supremacists and any associated violence. Just like the left to get all riled up and violent over something taken completely out of context.”
Moments later, post was deleted.
Regardless, the criticism was swift and harsh. “You DO know that a 32-year-old woman was murdered by a Nazi supporter, right? But I guess that doesn’t matter, considering your poor apologetics and vitriol,” Anthony Moss of Albuquerque commented on the county GOP post before it was deleted. “I think you forgot to pick up your white hood and robe on the way to work.”
To which the county GOP responded, before claiming the post wasn’t about Charlottesville, “Point proven.”
At Saturday’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Heather D. Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others were injured when a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters. James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio, 20, has been charged in the attack.
U.S. President Donald Trump has been hammered by Democrats and some Republicans for blaming the violence in Charlottesville on “many sides” and, thus far, refusing to call out white nationalists.
Other Republicans, meanwhile, have issued strong statements about Saturday’s events. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez condemned “the white supremacists responsible for this cowardly attack.” U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, tweeted, “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”
U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, tweeted, “White supremacists aren’t patriots, they’re traitors- Americans must unite against hatred & bigotry.”
Some weren’t buying the county GOP’s assertion that Jimenez wasn’t writing about Charlottesville.
“What the hell was he talking about if not Charlottesville?” tweeted former Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White, a Republican who called on Jimenez to resign from his GOP leadership post. He said Jimenez appeared to be “defending the brutal murder of an innocent American” by a neo-Nazi.
Mark Milliorn of Las Cruces called Jimenez’s post “deranged.”
“Are you deliberately trying to run off the last few thinking conservatives? This is a prime example of why I am now a Libertarian,” Milliorn wrote.
David Giron of Albuquerque also called on Jimenez to resign.
“Another great reason why I left this blind and ignorant party,” he wrote.
Jana Ward wrote to Jimenez, on the county GOP post, that she knows “plenty of Republicans in this county, state, and country who strongly disagree with you.”
“Sympathizing with Nazis and White Supremacists who killed an American yesterday is incredibly unpatriotic,” Ward wrote.
The Democratic Party of New Mexico, in response to Jimenez’s posted, tweeted out its own statement on the events in Charlottesville. “It’s heartbreaking that our country is mourning the deaths of innocent lives caused by blatant racism and hate,” the Democratic Party said. “It is our sincere hope that our country heals from these tragedies and that we come together against bigotry and violence.”
The state GOP posted a similar statement on Facebook. And in comments to NMPolitics.net, spokesman Dominic Pacheco said the state GOP “takes a firm stand against any and all racism, and acts of violence and hate.”
“The Republican Party of New Mexico is deeply saddened by the horrific and tragic events that have occurred in Charlottesville over the past few days. These events are destructive to our nation’s wellbeing, peace and progress and should be condemned,” Pacheco said. “There is no room for racism and hatred in our country.”
U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, N.M., who’s running for governor, also condemned the violence in Charlottesville.
“The car attack by a white supremacist in Charlottesville yesterday was an act of terror, plain and simple,” Pearce said in a statement to NMPolitics.net. “This violence and hatred has no place in our communities. I condemn this act and any like it. My prayers are with the families of those killed and everyone injured or affected by yesterday’s violence.”
Pearce didn’t comment on Jimenez’s post.
Levatino said she is saddened “that our country has come to such an inexcusable level of violence. Our nation is at a crossroads and we need inclusion, tolerance, and respectful dialogue now more than ever.”
“I hope to work with my fellow council members and our community to create an environment where we can peacefully and safely discuss our differences without fear,” Levatino said.
Jimenez, a native New Mexican, retired in 2015 from his job as a New Mexico State Police captain. He currently works as deputy chief for the Las Cruces/El Paso region for International Protective Service, Inc., an armed security guard company. His bio there states that he was commander of Gov. Martinez’s security detail during his tenure with the State Police.
Jimenez authored a guest column published by NMPolitics.net in May in which he issued a battle call to Republicans and referred to civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., in writing, “I’ve found the hill that I’m ready to fight and die on. I’ve found the road to the mountain top.”
Jimenez didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment sent to the county GOP’s Facebook page, where NMPolitics.net has corresponded with him in the past.
This article has been updated to include comments from Pearce and Cangiolosi.