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Illinois political worker loses post after tweets linking Waukesha, Rittenhouse

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Christmas Parade SUV

Toppled chairs are seen among holiday decorations in downtown Waukesha, Wis., after an SUV plowed into a Christmas parade injuring dozens of people Sunday, Nov 21. 2021. 

Mary Lemanski, social media manager for the Democratic Party of DuPage County, was let go from her position Monday morning after posting a series of tweets comparing Kyle Rittenhouse to the driver of the SUV that sped through barricades and struck dancers, musicians and others during a Waukesha, Wisconsin, Christmas parade.

“It was probably just self-defense #Wisconsin #KyleRittenhouse,” Lemanski tweeted about the tragedy that left five dead and 40 injured.

She followed up the statement, replying to a comment deriding her opinion and saying, “I’m sad. I’m sad anytime anyone dies. I just believe in Karma and this came around quick on the citizens of Wisconsin.”

A Kenosha County jury on Friday acquitted Rittenhouse of all charges against him, finding the teenage gunman acted in self-defense when he fatally shot two men and wounded a third during a protest in Kenosha.

Her tweets quickly drew comments and coverage from across the country, and she said on social media she has received threatening messages.

Ken Mejia-Beal, the chair of the DuPage Democratic Party, said Lemanski was “let go” shortly after he became aware of her comments. She had worked for the party since 2017 or 2018, Mejia-Beal said. She tweeted that she resigned.

“We don’t applaud or celebrate tragedy,” Meija-Beal said. “This was a tragedy. These were folks that were out at a joyous occasion having a great time at a beautiful and festive time of the year. We, as a party, disavow Mary’s Twitter comments, the sentiment behind them. We are with the victims of this tragedy.”

Later, in a emailed statement, Meija-Beal called the tweets “callous and reprehensible posts.”

Since her tweet blew up, Lemanski tweeted several screenshots of harassing messages she had received from people angry at her posts, one of whom claimed to be outside of her home.

Numerous Twitter users have also tweeted anti-Semitic comments at her, although Lemanski said she is Gnostic Christian.

Mejia-Beal said that in a private conversation he had with Lemanski she showed remorse for her tweets. She also publicly tweeted her resignation from the party.

“I firmly believe in the right to freedom of speech. I also believe that you must be willing to accept responsibility and the consequences of your actions for that free speech. I unfortunately made some remarks that were not in good taste regarding the Waukesha tradgedy (sic) yesterday,” Lemanski wrote in the statement.

The Tribune was unable to reach Lemanski directly for comment.

The chairman of the DuPage County Republicans Jim Zay wrote in a statement that he was “shocked and outraged” by Lemanski’s tweets.

“No matter your party affiliation right now all of our thoughts and prayers need to be with those families who lost loved ones and those who are hospitalized that they recover from their injuries,” Zay wrote. “By trying to link one issue to this senseless loss of life during a Christmas parade shows how out of touch and single issued some people can be.”

Mejia-Beal, who has been the chair of the party for less than a month, had similar sentiments, saying that all parties need to do better to bring people together, especially in the face of great tragedy.

“My goal is not to divide; it’s to bring together,” Mejia-Beal said. “This tragedy is when Americans should come together and recognize the humanity in each and every one of us.”


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