A firestorm is brewing in the South Bay after a local Republican leader posted a message online that appeared to encourage the violence as the nation’s Capitol was being overrun by pro-Trump rioters.
The Facebook post, declaring ‘citizens take arms’ was written by Phil Reynolds, an elected member of the Santa Clara County Republican Central Committee.
In the days after the riots a growing number of South Bay residents and leaders have called for him to resign.
Reynolds was a longtime planning commissioner in Campbell and even ran, unsuccessfully, for Congress.
His online posts shocked and angered many people, including Assemblyman Evan Low, who was once mayor of Campbell.
Low replied to Facebook posts by Reynolds who, as the rioting was just starting Wednesday wrote, “The war has begun. Citizens take arms. Freedom shall prevail. We must defend our constitution to the death!”
Low is now one of many calling for Reynolds to resign as a member of the county Republican Party Central Committee and in a virtual interview, Low said he’s determined to hold Reynolds, a longtime fellow Campbell official, accountable for his statements.
“It’s horrible to see this type of rhetoric and comments. These harmful comments with respect to an elected representative in Santa Clara County. This individual should be shamed, disgraced and removed from office,” said Low.
Reynolds told NBC Bay Area that his words are being twisted by Low, other politicians and the media.
He said he was trying to rally the public against the rioters, though he says he’s not convinced the rioters were pro-Trump groups.
“I saw our sovereignty being threatened, and when I said ‘take up arms,’ the meaning behind that was ‘prepare yourself to protect our nation,’” said Reynolds.
At this point, the two sides are at a stalemate. Low says he doesn’t buy Reynold’s explanation at all and believes that rhetoric will lead to more violence. While Reynolds, as an elected official, can’t be fired and says he has no intention of resigning.