CONWAY — A Twitter account purporting to be that of the Mount Washington Valley Republicans has been hosting inflammatory tweets, such as about "Antifa hunting."
Local Republican leaders say they had nothing to do with them and are investigating a tweet showing an "Antifa Hunting Permit" that says, "Open Season All 58 Gender Identies" as well as "No Bagging Limit" and "No Tagging Required."
Antifa is a left-wing "anti-fascist" movement made up of autonomous activists. U.S. Attorney General William Barr has blamed Antifa and other groups for committing acts of violence during protests, including those following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
A Google search shows the "Antifa Hunting Permit" meme is popular on the internet and that patches with the same design are available for sale.
The chair of the local Republican Committee wants it to be made known that they aren't behind the post.
Chairwoman Karen Umberger of Conway said that while the "MWV Republicans" tweet "looks like it is the official MWV Committee Twitter account, it is not.
"We have nothing to do with that at all. We also don't have any idea whose account that is. I am heartbroken that anyone would post that sort of negativity. I'm distraught," she said.
The official Mt. Washington Valley GOP Twitter account is mwv_gop.
The "MWVRepublicans" Twitter account appears to predate the official "mwv_gop" one, which goes back to July 2019 and has 51 followers.
The "MWV Republicans" account, which says it is based in Conway, goes back to September 2017 and had 3,252 posted tweets as of Friday. It has 204 followers.
A reader alerted the Sun to the Antifa hunting tweet.
Conway Police Lt. Chris Mattei said they are looking into the "Antifa Hunting" meme to determine if it's a "credible threat to the area."
Carroll County Republican Committee chairman Frank McCarthy said the county Republicans also disavow "atrocious" writing on the Twitter page in question.
"This all came as a surprise to us this morning," said McCarthy, a retired Marine who has spent hours on the phone and on the computer looking into it.
McCarthy said they are having Republican attorney Matthew J. Plache of Wolfeboro to get to the bottom of it. Planche is a member of the county committee and chairs the Winni GOP Committee out of southern Carroll County.
McCarthy said the person behind the account has no right to speak for the Republican committees.
Plache said the Republicans "vehemently reject" the MWV Republicans' offensive posts. "We don't know who it is and are investigating to find out," said Plache. "Our investigation is ongoing."
McCarthy said the committee has complained about the Twitter account before because it looked like it was coming from the committee when it wasn't.
The Democrats also caught wind of the Twitter account.
Rep. Anita Burroughs (D-Bartlett) called the tweet “despicable” and hoped the Conway police would investigate it as a hate crime.
“I think it’s hateful and is designed to incite violence,” she said. “I ask every Republican running for office to denounce this tweet.”
Carroll County Democrats Chairman Knute Ogren told the Sun that people should be careful who they follow on social media and make sure they know who is really behind an account before following it.
"It's a reminder to all of us that there are lousy people who are trying to create confusion and divisiveness," said Ogren.
The Antifa hunting meme isn't the only provocative post on MWVRepublicans.
Another post shows a man in a tricorner hat and with a bandanna over his face holding an ax in his left hand and a gun in his right hand. Superimposed over the man are the words "2020 is no longer Republican vs Democrat it's freedom vs tyranny."
Umberger, who said someone notified her about the tweet Friday morning, said she tweeted to the MWVRepublicans to tell them their page wasn't representing the party well.
She said local Republicans are "absolutely not" calling for violence.
"That is just beyond the pale," said Umberger who also called the post "disgusting." "We would never, ever, ever put something out like that."