SA­BA­TINI

Orlando Sentinel - - Local & State - sle­mon­gello@ or­lan­dosen­tinel.com

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.”

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