WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WISH) — A city council member publicly wished for President Donald Trump’s death in a series of tweets hours after the president was hospitalized.
Nick DeBoer, a Democrat, had even added in the tweets that he hoped it was an unpleasant death.
West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis, a Republican, while not defending the remarks, did defend DeBoer’s right to express them.
DeBoer has since deleted the tweets and told News 8 he was wrong for being flippant when wishing for the president’s demise.
But the words of the original tweets speak for themselves.
The first one finishes with “I hope he dies” after stating he’s heard “an outpouring of grinning friends and happy family.”
It was tweeted out by DeBoer early Saturday morning, about six hours after President Trump went to the hospital after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Two tweets follow it up: “And I hope it’s unpleasant” said the first. “And I hope a person with the absurd name Hope is responsible” stated the second, referring to Hope Hicks, a top aide who tested positive on Thursday.
“I know Nick. We’ve worked together for many years. I know how passionate he is,” Dennis said.
DeBoer has been on the Council for six years, since 2014.
Dennis learned about the tweets from News 8, but has since spoken to DeBoer.
“He’s got very strong beliefs and he stands by them,” Dennis said.
According to someone who saw the tweets, they were deleted within an hour of being posted.
While Twitter bans threats of violence, DeBoer’s tweet may not have been a violation since it expresses a wish or hope rather than a direct threat.
Dennis won’t say if DeBoer’s tweets went too far.
“That’s not for me to say. This is a free country, people are entitled to have their opinions,” Dennis said. “Had he asked me personally as a friend, I would have tried to counsel him not to, but this country is predicated on free speech.”
“I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s exercising the wisest patriotic right, but it’s his right to do so,” Dennis said.
DeBoer declined to be interviewed for this story Friday but emailed a statement:
“There’re 210,000 Americans who have perished because the President downplayed this pandemic for months while actively undermining public health guidelines before attempting to cover up the outbreak along with his own senior staff. I was wrong for being flippant when wishing for his demise — he should be held to account first at the ballot box and then a court of law. I therefore quickly deleted the tweet and wish the President a swift recovery so that justice may one day prevail.”
Meanwhile Dennis is not worried that the tweets will reflect poorly on the city as a whole or residents who would disagree with what DeBoer said.
“Nick is a very strong-willed person, so as a colleague of his, I understand what he did. But as a mayor of the city of West Lafayette, I wish he would have called me first. Not that I could have changed his mind,” Dennis said.
There are eight Democrats and one Republican on the city council.
News 8 reached out to all of them Monday afternoon.
Besides DeBoer, just three responded to requests for comment.
Council Vice President Gerald Thomas and council member David Sanders, both Democrats, said they weren’t aware of the tweets.
Council member James Blanco, also a Democrat, declined to comment.