AG Investigating N.H. Rep's Facebook Post About Looting, Burning Homes With Black Lives Matter Signs | New Hampshire Public Radio

AG Investigating N.H. Rep's Facebook Post About Looting, Burning Homes With Black Lives Matter Signs

Sep 3, 2020

Screen capture of the post by Rep. Spillane.

Editor's note: This story was updated Friday with the House Republican Leader's reaction to the post. The update is at the end of this article. 

The New Hampshire Department of Justice is investigating Rep. James Spillane over a Facebook post in which the Deerfield lawmaker advocated for burning and looting houses displaying Black Lives Matter signs.

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“Public Service Announcement,” Spillane wrote in the post from earlier this week. “If you see a BLM sign on a lawn, it’s the same as having a porch light on at Halloween. You are free to burn and loot that house.” As of Thursday afternoon, the post appears to have been deleted from Spillane’s page.

Sean Locke, Director of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Unit, said his office received multiple complaints about the post. In a letter to House Speaker Steve Shurtleff, Locke wrote that “members of the public who support the Black Lives Matter movement have expressed fear that they may become targets of violence as the result of Rep. Spillane’s post.”

In a statement, Shurtleff called for Spillane’s immediate resignation.

The Facebook post is “inexcusable,” Shurtleff said. He called it an “incitement of violence that put the lives of Granite Staters in jeopardy.“

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Spillane, a Republican, is serving in his fourth term in Concord representing Candia, Deerfield, and Nottingham. He is also a co-chair of the House Republican Alliance, a conservative caucus within the Legislature. He did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Jordan Thompson, a founder of Black Lives Matter Nashua and a racial justice organizer for the ACLU of New Hampshire, also called on Spillane to resign.

“Remarks like these indicate a total lack of decency and respect for Black lives,” Thompson said in a statement. “This is yet another example of what we mean when we say New Hampshire is not innocent. It is incumbent on all of us to be honest about the reality that white supremacy exists in the Granite State.”

This is not the first time Spillane, who is running for reelection this year, has provoked public outrage for a social media post.

Last year he was stripped of his seat on the House Fish and Game Committee after he tweeted a graphic photo of a squirrel he shot in his yard.

Spillane was convicted of DUI and reckless conduct in 2010 and for driving with an open container in 2018.

UPDATE, Friday, Sept. 4:

The top Republican in the New Hampshire House is pushing back on calls for a GOP state representative to resign over a Facebook post inviting people to “burn and loot” houses displaying Black Lives Matter signs.

House Minority Leader Dick Hinch said the language in Deerfield Rep. James Spillane’s now-deleted post was inexcusable, but Hinch told WMUR he also trusts Spillane "meant no harm.”

The Attorney General is now investigating Spillane’s post as a potential violation of state civil rights laws.

House Speaker Steve Shurtleff called for Spillane’s resignation Thursday. Hinch said Shurtleff’s failure to consult him before issuing a statement in the press showed Shurtleff was mainly interested in stoking what Hinch called “a public partisan spectacle.”

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