(CNN) — A man charged in connection to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot made racist and xenophobic remarks during a public hearing before the Maine legislature in 2017.
Video obtained by CNN shows Kyle Fitzsimons referring to immigrants as “replacements,” echoing White nationalist rhetoric that immigrants to America are coming to wipe out White people.
From the start of his almost three-and-a-half minute speech on May 10, 2017, Fitzsimons’ bigotry and xenophobia were on full display.
“I’m from New York; I’m from Rhode Island,” he said, holding two license plates up. “I did grow up in those states and I have to tell you that I think they are multicultural hell holes.”
CNN obtained the video from an eyewitness to the speech, who asked not to be named because of safety concerns. Mainer News was first to report Fitzsimons’ remarks.
Legislature records, public records and four eyewitnesses all confirm to CNN that Fitzsimons is the man seen in the video making the bigoted remarks. His comments came during the public hearing for a proposed bill that would have largely expanded funding for teaching immigrants English, among other things geared toward helping them.
During the Jan. 6 riot and insurrection in Washington, DC, federal prosecutors say that Fitzsimons assaulted police officers, among other crimes.
CNN has been unable to reach Fitzsimons directly but in response to the video and Fitzsimons’ remarks, his public defender in the Capitol riot case told CNN, “no comment.”
In the 2017 speech, Fitzsimons’ arguments mirrored some of the core tenets of the White nationalist “great replacement” theory. The belief is a delusion often held by White nationalists and supremacists, and it falsely claims there’s an active effort to bring in immigrants from other countries to wipe out White people.
“I’ll level this at all of you because you’re sitting elected officials during the opioid crisis that is affecting Maine and killing us off,” Fitzsimons said. “Killing off Yankee New England cultural; you’re doing nothing to do nothing about it.”
He then said that the legislators were “bringing in the new third world” and that they were “bringing in the replacements.”
‘I was legit scared for my colleagues’
Fitzsimons then turned around, gesturing to someone in the audience who had spoken in favor of the bill. John Kosinski, who was in the audience that day, told CNN it was a Black man.
“This gentleman behind me, I believe he was on the news yesterday,” Fitzsimons said. “You cleaned up very nice.”
He claimed the man had been standing in front of a poster the previous day that read, “help the immigrant population navigate the juvenile criminal justice system.”
“What’s wrong with your culture that you need to know that much about how to teach your kids to stay out of jail,” Fitzsimons said to the man.
Despite an interjection by a legislator, Fitzsimons continued his White nationalist rhetoric, saying, “Keep Maine, Maine.
“The state motto is, ‘I Lead,’ ‘Dirigo,'” he said, alluding to the state flag. “It’s got two White laborers on it; don’t put them at the end of the line.”
Shortly before the video ends, Fitzsimons walks away from the podium and out of frame.
“I remember the gasps,” former legislator Roger Katz told CNN. Katz was the sponsor of the bill that Fitzsimons was speaking against.
He described Fitzsimons’ remarks as “the most racist comment I heard in the eight years I spent [in the legislature].”
“I was legit scared for my colleagues,” remembered state Sen. Mattie Daughtry, who was listening to the hearing while at the dentist.
Daughtry and state Sen. Rebecca Millett both confirmed to CNN that after the comments, a member of the Maine Capitol Police stood in the committee room during hearings for some time afterward.
“I will tell you sitting in that committee room… I felt exposed,” Millett told CNN. “Not terribly safe, and unsure what this gentleman was going to do given his demeanor.”
‘I hope this guy doesn’t shoot me in the face’
The 2017 speech wasn’t the last time that Fitzsimons had a tense run-in with a member of the Maine legislature, according to state Rep. Michele Meyer.
“In the Spring of 2019, Kyle Fitzsimons, who I knew only in his capacity as an employee of a local Kittery business I shop at frequently, followed me into a parking lot, parked his truck behind my car, and positioned himself so close to my car I could not have opened the door,” she told CNN in a statement. “It happened quickly.”
During the confrontation, Meyer said in the statement, “he spoke of the 2nd Amendment, made disparaging remarks about the Governor and speculated America was headed to civil war over gun rights.”
In an interview with CNN, Meyer said that the entire ordeal with Fitzsimons — he was not her constituent — lasted roughly two minutes. She, at the time, said she had co-sponsored a number of bills relating to gun safety.
She remembers she just listened to him, something she did often as a nurse with patients.
“I listened, because I didn’t want to escalate the situation in any way,” she said. “I had no desire to argue with him, nor to defend my position, [because] it didn’t seem like that would be the wise approach on my part.”
After letting him talk, Meyer says she asked him to move his vehicle so she could leave, which he did.
“When those kind of things happen a lot of things run through your head very quickly,” Meyer said. “I thought very quickly — among the fleeting thoughts I had — was I hope this guy doesn’t shoot me in the face.”