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Facebook takes down Pennsylvania mayor’s post that threatened high-profile Democrats

Facebook took down a post by Old Forge, Pennsylvania, Mayor Robert Legg that called for the shooting of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.

A spokeswoman for the social media site said Legg’s post violated Facebook’s credible violence and harassment policies. His Facebook page is private, so the post is not visible to the public.

“We believe in giving people a voice, but we also want everyone using Facebook to feel safe. It’s why we have community standards and remove anything that violates them,” the spokeswoman said in an email.

Facebook removed the Jan. 23 post on Jan. 29, she said.

She declined to say how often Facebook takes down posts threatening Pelosi, Schumer, Cuomo or others and whether Legg was warned against a repeat or objected to the post’s removal.

Repeated efforts to reach Legg were unsuccessful. A retired Old Forge teacher, Legg, 66. a Democrat, won the mayor’s job in the November 2017 election. The online publication, Pennsylvania Capital-Star, first reported the post’s removal Wednesday.

Upset by a recently passed new York law expanding abortion rights, Legg posted that “The Governor of New York should be shot for allowing abortions up to nine months. That is murder. Nanci Pilosi (sic), you dirt ball along with Schumer and the rest of you treasonous bastards should be shot. Hope you left wing and snowflakes and illegal sympathizers are proud of what you voted into office.”

He went on: “Why don’t we help our homeless and poor. It’s all for votes to keep their cushy jobs and Power. How about our Veterans? You spineless jellyfish. I’d like to have 5 minutes alone in a locked room with each of you.”

Under its previous abortion law, one in place since 1970, a woman could legally get an abortion during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy and only if her life was at risk after that. The new law allows an abortion if a woman’s health is threatened and if the fetus is unable to survive outside the womb.

The law also shifted abortion regulations from the state’s criminal code to the health code, meaning abortion providers can no longer be charged with a crime. It also allows nurse practitioners, physician assistants and licensed midwives to carry out abortions.

Pelosi and Schumer had nothing to do with the New York law’s passage.

Lackawanna County Democratic Party chairman Chris Patrick condemned Legg’s post and said the mayor has lost his “good standing” in the party as far as he’s concerned.

“First of all, who in God’s name would possess somebody to post something like that,” Patrick said. “I don’t care what party you’re from. To call for somebody to be shot? … I wouldn’t be OK with threatening a Republican or anyone like that. You can’t condone that kind of behavior. I just could never support him for re-election. It’s uncalled for. I can’t imagine what was going through his mind. I can’t imagine, looking back now, he thinks it was OK.”

Old Forge Council President Bob Semenza said he had not seen the post, and called the mayor for an explanation.

“I would just like to make a statement as the president of the council that I do not condone this nor does the rest of council,” he wrote in an email Wednesday night. “This was the mayor’s personal Facebook page, it was not a borough-affiliated account. Myself and the rest of council has no control over what he posts on his personal page.”

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