Loring Wirbel has resigned as co-chair of the Colorado Springs chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado after facing mounting criticism for a Facebook post that said people voting for Donald Trump should be told "I will have to shoot you before election day."
Wirbel told The Gazette Thursday night that the post wasn't meant to be taken seriously.
"It was intended totally as a joke," Wirbel said. "They are taking that stuff out of context. It's smear politics."
However, Wirbel said he could see how the post was offensive.
Daniel Cole, executive director of the El Paso County Republican Party, was the first to repost the comment on Facebook and ask if it was appropriate coming from the head of an organization that stands for things like free speech and equal access to voting.
"I think it's outrageous on its face," Cole said. "It's beyond belief that he would think it was acceptable to post something like that."
Cole said the post was particularly egregious in a community recovering from a mass shooting.
Wirbel had posted a USA Today opinion article accusing Trump of being a fear monger with the following comment:
"The thing is, we have to really reach out to those who might consider voting for trump and say, 'this is Goebbels. This is the final solution. If you are voting for him I will have to shoot you before election day.' They're not going to listen to reason, so when justice is gone, there's always force, as Laurie would say."
The reference is to Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler's propagandist who advocated for the "final solution," the murder of millions of Jews.
Donald Trump has been compared frequently to Hitler following his call to prohibit Muslims from immigrating to the United States.
Wirbel said he would never advocate for violence and that he sent in his resignation letter Friday, giving up his volunteer position with the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado.
Cole had called for Wirbel's resignation.
The ACLU of Colorado issued a statement saying that it did not "condone the recent personal Facebook post of regional volunteer Loring Wirbel."
Contact Megan Schrader: 286-0644