LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — Lake County Rep. Anthony Sabatini caused controversy when he tweeted out a picture of an AR-15 and wrote a message for potential protesters.
But the lawmaker said the tweet was a warning, not a threat.
"What I tweeted was a warning and not a threat,” he said. “A warning if they do that in Lake County businesses, there's a very good chance that firearms are going to be present. They're probably going to be shot if they burglarize.”
According to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, so far there haven’t been any issues with businesses being burglarized or vandalized.
But protests are planned for this week in the county.
Sabatini also said he isn’t convinced that protests scheduled to happen in Clermont will be peaceful.
"The silent majority in this country believes in the rule of law. They believe that anyone should have the right to peaceful protest especially atrocious things like police brutality,” he said. “But when it actually crosses the line, when it goes into destroying property burning buildings down, burning police stations, that's actually not OK, and shutting down roadways is not OK."
Clermont resident Charlene Forth said she disagrees with Sabatini.
"These are peaceful people and they just want to get their message out,” she said. “I have all the faith in our police Chief Broadway and our police department."
Forth said Sabatini’s tweet was unacceptable.
“The fact that we have this unrest all over the country and to have a representative say that about the weapons and guns is unacceptable,” she said.
Forth said with everything that’s going on right now, “We need unity and peace and we’re looking for that from our representatives, and for this to come from our representative that people look to and follow is really, really bad.”
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