Once again, a Republican has pleaded ignorance for supporting a hate group.
Georgia’s Republican State Sen. Michael Williams drew a wave of criticism after he posed for a photograph with heavily armed members of pro-Trump, anti-immigrant, extremist “militia” called Georgia Security Force III%, during the “March Against Sharia” in Atlanta.
In 2016, The New York Times reported the group trains rigorously with firearms and believes liberals and immigrants, including Muslims, are the biggest threat to the United States.
In the photo shared by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch Twitter account, Williams, a staunch President Donald Trump supporter who is also running for governor, can be seen standing behind a group of camouflage-wearing white supremacists, a few of whom have three of their fingers extended, which the SPLC says represent the III% militia.
The symbol, according to the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, is a “white supremacist hand signal.”
The senator did not comment on the incident but his spokesperson Seth Weathers claimed Williams did not understand the symbolism and posed with the group because they supported guns.
“We don’t know about the supposed symbolism, only that a bunch of liberal hate groups were online tweeting about it,” Weathers told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This is the stupidest thing in the world — that we are debating whether grown men were supposedly holding their fingers the wrong way during a photo.”
The explanation would have been more credible if Williams had not attended the “March Against Sharia” or spoken against the Islamic law.
“We all need to come together, put aside some of our petty differences and unite together to fight sharia law,” the senator said. “We do not need it in our country. Overseas in Europe and other places, they’re throwing people off of buildings, they’re decapitating people because they do not believe the things they believe.”
The controversial photo spurred many Twitter users to react.
Funny how white militia groups spent 8 years prepping for a tyrannical government, now there is one & the issue is suddenly Sharia Law. 😂— Kno (@Kno) June 10, 2017
Oh look! Michael Williams, running for GA Gov. hanging with his white supremacist buddies at a hate rally. We're better than this America pic.twitter.com/t7qWgHo1GB— MD16 (@Tanker_wfe4life) June 10, 2017