A disturbing sign with the words “hang Fauci” appeared in a news report about COVID-19 lockdown protesters whom President Donald Trump hailed on Saturday as “great people.”
The sign was part of a threatening rhyme reading: “Hang Fauci Hang Gates, Open Up All Our States.” It appeared in a local TV report Thursday on News 12 Long Island about the “Re-Open New York” protest that day in Commack.
The sign referred to philanthropist Bill Gates, who has sounded the alarm on pandemics, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the popular science expert on Trump’s original coronavirus task force and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci has warned of serious health consequences if the nation reopens the economy too quickly and drops safety precautions during the COVID-19 crisis.
The chilling message was part of a filmed report on the protest by TV journalist Kevin Vesey, who has become a target of Trump on Twitter.
Vesey initially attracted Trump’s attention when he tweeted about his ugly experience at the protest, where demonstrators berated and harassed him. Vesey called the anger directed at him “alarming.” One maskless protester in a Trump T-shirt and MAGA hat deliberately invaded his social distancing space as Vesey (who was wearing a mask) pleaded with him to back away. Vesey recently recovered from COVID-19.
“I was insulted. I was berated. I was practically chased by people who refused to wear masks in the middle of a pandemic,” Vesey tweeted.
I'll probably never forget what happened today.
I was insulted. I was berated. I was practically chased by people who refused to wear masks in the middle of a pandemic.
All the while, I was there to tell THEIR story. Here's the finished product. pic.twitter.com/HV2Hrcs7gi
— Kevin Vesey (@KevinVesey) May 14, 2020
Trump on Thursday tweeted in response to one of Vesey’s posts: “FAKE NEWS IS NOT ESSENTIAL.”
On Saturday, the president again tweeted about Vesey’s posted video, declaring of the protesters: “Great people!” Trump added: “People can’t get enough of this.”
People can’t get enough of this. Great people! https://t.co/b4HM0C298h
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2020
The Commack protest was organized by the Setauket Patriots, a group of Trump supporters — and backed by the Long Island branch of the radical right-wing organization The Oath Keepers, reported The Intercept, which was the first to report on the disturbing Fauci sign.
Trump’s comment about the “great people” at the protest evoked his controversial comment about swastika-waving “Unite the Right” marchers in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. He said then there were “very fine people on both sides” amid marchers and counter-protesters.
Avowed neo-Nazi James Alex Fields was sentenced last year to life in prison for a hate crime for deliberately driving his car into counter-protesters at the Charlottesville march, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.