Maryland official fired for defending charged Kenosha gunman Kyle Rittenhouse

A member of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration has been fired for “divisive” Facebook posts supporting the teenage gunman charged in the deadly shooting at protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Arthur “Mac” Love IV, who previously served as the deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives, was terminated Saturday after posting memes sympathizing with Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old from Illinois accused of killing two and seriously injuring another during an Aug. 25 demonstration in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, the Baltimore Sun reports.

In one post, which was spotted by Montgomery County Delegate Eric Luedtke, Love posted a meme of a smiling police officer holding two thumbs up above a caption that read: “Don’t be a thug if you [can’t] take a slug!”

Luedtke noted that as part of his role, Love oversaw the Commission on African American History and Culture and called on Hogan to fire him.

In another post, Love expressed sympathy for Rittenhouse, writing, “I’m grateful that conservatives are rallying behind this kid. He genuinely seems like a good person.”

Another meme shared by Love included a photo of protesters with a caption that read: “Defund the police! We can police our own communities,” according to the report.

Love’s account, which appeared to be no longer active as of Monday, also featured a photo of Rittenhouse with a gun, claiming he had “policed his community,” as well as a meme that mocked “liberals” for accusing him of being a white supremacist, the Sun reports.

“These divisive images and statements are inconsistent with the mission and core values of the Office of Community Initiatives,” Steve McAdams, executive director of the Governor’s Office on Community Initiatives, said Saturday in a statement. “Earlier today, I relieved this employee of his duties.”

Love, whose salary last year was $77,000, did not reply to a request for comment Saturday, the newspaper reports.

Love had worked in Hogan’s administration since the Republican governor took office in 2015, Maryland Matters reports.

“There’s no sense for it,” Maryland State Delegate Darryl Barnes told the outlet. “There’s no reason someone like this should be a part of our state government.”

An online fundraiser in support of Love, meanwhile, had raised more than $300 as of Monday.

“His career of dedicated service came to an abrupt and public end because he exercised his individual freedom of speech by posting on his private social media account that folks should consider another side to the nationally discussed story of Kenosha, Wisconsin’s shooting suspect Kyle Rittenhouse of Illinois,” according to the fundraiser, which claims Love is now being harassed and bullied due to his posts.

Love, for his part, addressed the controversy surrounding his posts early Saturday while sharing a photo of vandalizing buildings in Raleigh, North Carolina, and calling on people to “wake up,” the Sun reports.

“[People] on the left try to get you fired from your job for speaking truth,” Love wrote. “[It’s] better to be fired for being honest than the LIE.”

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