State Government and Politics and Government & Economic Development and Government and Law

Indiana official out of job after 'live ammo' tweet

February 23, 2011

An Indiana deputy attorney general "is no longer employed" by the state after Mother Jones magazine reported he tweeted that police should use live ammunition against Wisconsin labor protesters, the attorney general's office said Wednesday.

The magazine reported Wednesday that Jeffrey Cox responded "Use live ammunition" to a Saturday night posting on its Twitter account that said riot police could sweep protesters out of the Wisconsin capitol, where thousands have been protesting a bill that would strip public employees of collective bargaining rights.

Cox also referred to the protesters as "thugs physically threatening legally-elected state legislators & governor" and said "You're damn right I advocate deadly force," according to the magazine. He later told an Indianapolis television station the comments were intended to be satirical.

The Indiana attorney general's office said it conducted "a thorough and expeditious review" after the report.

"We respect individuals' First Amendment right to express their personal views on private online forums, but as public servants we are held by the public to a higher standard, and we should strive for civility," the office said in a statement.

Spokesman Bryan Corbin said the office confirmed Cox wrote the tweets but declined to offer further details about its review or Cox no longer having his job, citing confidentiality of personnel matters.

Cox told Indianapolis television station WRTV on Wednesday that his comments were satirical but acknowledged they were "not a good idea."

"I think in this day and age that tweet was not a good idea and in terms of that language, I'm not going to use it anymore," Cox said. But he also said public employees shouldn't have to surrender their free-speech rights.

"I think we're getting down a slippery slope here in terms of silencing people who disagree," he told the television station.

The Associated Press called several Indianapolis phone listings for a Jeffrey Cox, but could not immediately reach him Wednesday.

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