As a mob of Trump supporters descended on the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overturn the presidential election results, Santa Clara County Republican Party Central Committee member Phil Reynolds praised the siege in a bellicose Facebook post.
“The war has begun!,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “Citizens take arms! FREEDOM SHALL PREVAIL!!! WE MUST DEFEND OUR CONSTITUTION TO THE DEATH!”
On Twitter, Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) called on Reynolds to step down from his post as a representative of the committee’s fourth supervisorial district.
“Will you denounce the violence one of your members incited, @svgop?” he wrote on Jan. 8. “This is an elected #Republican official here in Santa Clara County calling for civil war. Resign now. Enough! #Accountability.”
Will you denounce the violence one of your members incited, @svgop? This is an elected #Republican official here in Santa Clara County calling for civil war. Resign now. Enough! #Accountability pic.twitter.com/j9MFOlzLDq
— Evan Low (@Evan_Low) January 9, 2021
Other Silicon Valley officials then joined the call for Reynolds’ resignation.
“I fervently denounce this sentiment and am dismayed to see it expressed by an elected official in our county,” Santa Clara County District 4 Supervisor Susan Ellenberg tweeted later that same day.
Her colleague, Supervisor Otto Lee, echoed the sentiment, noting how the First Amendment has “limits and the inciting violence or worse—use of weaponry calling for arms to physically harm others or civil war—are not protected speech.”
Shane Patrick Connolly, the local GOP chair, also denounced the attacks.
But while the condemnation is clear, whether that translates to Reynold’s firing or resignation seems unlikely.
Connolly says it’s not his job to hire or fire people and framed the post as a test of free speech. “I think the bigger question is are we going to be tolerant of free speech even if we don’t like what is said?” he told Fly.
Reynolds seems to have changed his story over the weekend.
He’s now walking back his call for war, saying he “spoke out loudly and boldly in support of protecting our Capitol, the people in it, our nation and our Constitution,” in a statement posted to Facebook earlier this week.
“What happened at our Capitol was wrong in every direction and those partaking in those violent actions should face maximum penalties according to our laws,” he added.
This article has been updated.