Alec Giljohann/Iowa State Daily
The Iowa State Young Democratic Socialists of America found themselves in hot water after two tweets, appearing to advocate violence against President Trump and capitalists, spread among several news outlets, including Fox News.
One tweet said “the only dope worth shooting is in the Oval Office,” following a warning about intravenous drugs. The other said “The left has done a good job radicalizing juggalos, weebs, furries, but I will not rest until ‘hXc’ stands for hang+Xterminate capitalists.”
Apple Amos, co-president of the Iowa State YDSA, stated the tweets were meant to be hyperbolic and were initially from the national Democratic Socialists of America Twitter. Amos said the tweets were taken down from both accounts within a day.
“[The posting of the tweets] was decided by an individual within our group making that decision based off of the national organization,” Amos said. “The rest of our group came to the conclusion that they were inappropriate.”
Amos said members of the group have been receiving death threats since the tweets were posted and subsequently removed.
Brittany Guara, a former Iowa State student and student government senator, reached out to the university via Twitter and was told by the university that the tweet stating “The left has done a good job radicalizing juggalos, weebs, furries, but I will not rest until ‘hXc’ stands for hang+Xterminate capitalists,” was protected by freedom of speech.
Guara also contacted Student Government President Cody West, who she described as a “friend,” but had yet to follow-up at the time of her interview with the Iowa State Daily.
West told the Daily that Student Government “passed student concerns along to the Student Activities Center, but have not further involved [themselves].”
Guara, who was “heavily involved” with the College Republicans, feels there is hypocrisy among the YDSA and others within the university.
“There [were] things that happened, that to my knowledge, were not funded by anybody within my organization … that happened on campus, and those kids were constantly coming to Student Government and crying about it, constantly calling for things to happen within the university,” Guara said.
Amos indicated YDSA has held a meeting with the Iowa State Equal Opportunity Office since the tweets were posted and they will be meeting the Secret Service.
“The university administration understands the nature of these being hyperbolic and satirical,” Amos said.
University relations executive director, John McCarroll, said in an email to best of his knowledge, no one in the administration at Iowa State has made comments like the one above.
“As a university, our goal is to ensure that all of our students are safe, included and have the ability to succeed. We will continue to work toward this goal with the specific student organization involved in this incident as well as all other students, faculty, staff and administrators,” McCarroll wrote.
Michael Fredrickson of the Iowa State College Republicans who said he has been monitoring the YDSA Twitter page for more than a month said he was “initially very shocked.”
“I am 100 percent for free speech and freedom of expression, but [not] when it is like a direct threat on somebody,” Fredrickson said.
McCarroll said individuals who engage in harassing and threatening behavior are subject to discipline under the Student Code of Conduct.
“As a general matter, speech that rises to the level of discriminatory harassment and/or constitutes a threat to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals on campus is not protected First Amendment speech,” McCarroll said.
Editor’s note: This article has been changed due to an error. It was corrected to reflect Iowa State University only said the tweet about hanging and exterminating capitalists was protected by freedom of speech. The Daily regrets this error.