MT. PLEASANT — Former Henry County Republican Chair Trent Hobbs has been put on administrative leave from his job with the Mt. Pleasant school district pending investigation into his comments on Facebook.
His Facebook comments also drew a rebuke from county Democrats who released a statement condemning the comments and calling on Republican officials to start an investigation.
On Wednesday as rioters were rampaging through the nation’s capitol, Hobbs posted a message on the county GOP Facebook page saying patriots should prepare for a revolution and “stay locked and loaded.”
Hobbs has been a custodian for the Mt. Pleasant Community School for six years, said Superintendent John Henriksen.
Henriksen said he was alerted to the post Friday morning, and Hobbs has been put on paid administrative leave.
The situation is being handled as a personnel matter. Henriksen said he would not give details on the investigation process and is unsure how long the process will take.
In the Wednesday night post, Hobbs stated the country is “officially screwed,” and the republic is on the path to socialism.
“So from this time forward, patriots stay locked and loaded. Keep your family close,” Hobbs said.
About 5:45 p.m. Thursday, the post was removed from the website after the Southeast Iowa Union made several calls inquiring about it.
Hobbs said his comments were misinterpreted.
“Locked and loaded” is a phrase not a threat, Hobbs said. He continued to say he is not a violent person and condemns violence in every form.
Hobbs said he is a modern day Paul Revere warning people to be “alert, vigilant and stay safe.”
Democrat Chair Jeff Fager said members of the Henry County Democratic Party were made aware of the Facebook Wednesday.
“We are appalled at the phrases used,” according to the statement released by the Henry County Democratic Party released a statement condemning the post.
The original post came as the country watched hundreds of pro-Trump rioters breach the U.S. Capitol after protesting the ceremonial counting of the electoral votes that confirmed Preside-elect Job Biden’s win.
“Get ready for the coming revolution as the storming of the capital today will be likened to the shot heard round the world that launched the first Revolutionary War,” Hobbs said in the post. “Only this time it will be Red vs Blue.”
Hobbs said anything can be misinterpreted if words are twisted.
“I am not a member of or support any militia,” Hobbs said. “That being said, I will stand to protect my family, my flag and my country.”
Hobbs apologized if anyone was offended by his post.
“But as in every day life, not everyone is going to agree with your point of view,” Hobbs said.
Hobbs words were particularly concerning because of the attack, according to the Democrat’s statement.
“Members of the Democratic and Republican parties disagree on many issues, but we should never let our disagreements result in physical harm,” according to the statement approved by county party leadership.
The statement calls for local Republican elected officials, including state Rep. Joe Mitchell as well as county Supervisors Marc Lindeen, Greg Moeller and Chad White to condemn the behavior. The statement asks leadership to do an investigation to avoid future occurrences.
Republican leadership is asked to join the Democrats in a series of meeting this spring to find common ground between the parties, according to the release.
“The rhetoric and misinformation have gone too far. We need to find healing and common ground through civil discourse,” according to the statement.
Fager said as of Monday the Democrat party has not heard from the Republican Party regarding the comments.