Georgia GOP Chair David Shafer on Wednesday tweeted photos of masked and heavily armed individuals standing outside the Georgia Capitol.
Their identities remained a mystery Thursday, even to officials at the Georgia Department of Public Safety (GDPS).
Shafer, in his tweet, identified the men as part of a “masked, helmeted private militia carrying AK47s and AR15s.”
“You have not heard about it because the gunmen are radical leftists. Imagine the news coverage if one of them was wearing a MAGA cap,” Shafer tweeted.
Shafer did not elaborate on how he knew they were part of the political left.
Shafer emailed members of the Georgia GOP Wednesday and said the armed gunmen greeted Republicans who had gathered in Liberty Plaza, adjacent to the State Capitol, to rally for election integrity.
“They were not state troopers or National Guardsmen protecting the Capitol,” Shafer wrote, adding the men were privately organized and dressed in all black.
Shafer did not return requests for comment Thursday.
The Georgia Star News contacted GDPS officials Thursday and asked if they had identified the masked men.
An unidentified GDPS official, in an email, confirmed that armed individuals stood outside the state capitol Wednesday.
“The armed persons at the Capitol were expressing their constitutional right to bear arms. As such, there was no reason to identify them or any group they may have been representing,” the GDPS official said.
“Due to the pandemic, many people are wearing masks. It is a preference. It is not unusual to see people around the Capitol with a mask whether armed or not.”
As The Star News reported, Georgia legislators passed a new voter integrity bill into law that mandates voter ID on all absentee ballots. The law also increases oversight of local election boards who fail to follow election law while securing drop boxes around the clock.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has defended the law repeatedly this week against several criticisms from the political left.
“What this bill actually does is fight the rhetoric from those that are fund-raising off of this issue and polarizing it, to take away from the unconstitutional power grab of H.R. 1 that’s going on in Washington D.C. right now. It further secures our absentee ballots by mail by requiring a photo I.D., which the vast majority of Georgians support. It is also adding days of early voting on the weekends. We’re expanding the right to vote in Georgia. You’re not hearing that from the other side. That’s what the truth is, as well as further securing absentee ballot boxes, which didn’t exist before,” Kemp said in an emailed press release.
“It’s completely contrary to what they’re trying to do in D.C. by doing away with the state’s photo I.D. requirement, by doing away with it being illegal to harvest ballots in Georgia[and] making that mandatory at the federal level. I fought very hard for over a decade to keep our voter rolls secure. You wouldn’t be able to do that with H.R. 1. So I think the people really need to look at who is trying to restrict things. It’s the Democrats in Washington, not Republicans that continue to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
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