On Sunday, Florida Democrats called on Twitter to “remove [Sabatini’s] account for violence. People of Lake County, remove him from office.”
Sabatini told the Orlando Sentinel on Sunday that he was already informed by Twitter that the tweet did not violate its policy on inciting violence, for which they have “very low tolerance,” he said.
He said he was aware of social media posts showing what appeared to be violent actions by police against protesters, but he did not know anything further about them.
“I’m very aware and disturbed by the growing police state we have in this country,” Sabatini said. “There’s too much policing in general and the police do need to be scrutinized. … But that’s not mutually exclusive of being critical of people disturbing the peace and order of society.”
Sabatini also echoed Trump in calling some of the protesters in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police Monday “thugs.”
“Lock up every one of these disgusting, lawless thugs destroying the city of Minneapolis,” Sabatini wrote on Friday.
This is not the first time Sabatini has been accused of praising violence. In June 2019, after a man attempted to knock the phone out of an Orlando Sentinel reporter’s hand outside Trump’s Amway Center rally, Sabatini responded “MAGA,” the slogan of the Trump campaign. He stood by that comment despite the man later being arrested and charged with battery.
He also faced calls to resign by state Democrats in 2019 over a photo of himself as a 16-year-old with his face blackened, wearing gold jewelry, sunglasses and a New York Yankees hat. Sabatini and a high school friend said the two of them dressed as each other as a prank.
Following a series of clashes with party leadership, State GOP chair Joe Gruters told Sabatini at the time, “Now is the time for less talking and more selfreflection.”