A Florida Democratic Party legislative committeeman is apologizing for saying he would “pull the trigger” on Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and whistleblower Edward Snowden after facing days of intense backlash and death threats over his comments.
On Friday, FDP committeeman and Democratic lobbyist Evan Ross told Sunshine State News he’s sorry for the tweet which spiraled his life into chaos after it was published to hundreds of thousands of people online.
“I regret my words and apologize for them,” Ross said. “I chose them out of emotion rather than thoughtfulness.”
Ross said his comments “do not represent” him or what he believes.
“I abhor violence and would never seek to harm anyone,” he continued. “I would take back my words if I could. I offer my apology to those who I offended and will use this opportunity to learn and grow.”
It all started when Ross took to Twitter in a rant centered around Assange and Snowden.
"He exposed classified American secrets that endangered lives.” Ross wrote at the time. "He and his buddy Edward Snowden both deserve to meet their maker. I'd be happy to pull the trigger on both of those too."
Ross hit send. The damage was done.
It didn’t take long for Assange to catch wind of the threats and the Australian computer programmer quickly tweeted out a response, screenshotting the tweets and trashing Ross as a “#tolerantliberal.”
Assange’s Twitter account has nearly 250,000 followers, some of whom went after Ross for making the comments. Twitter users flooded Ross’ mentions, criticizing him for making the comments. Some users even sent him death threats.
Yet, in spite of the backlash, Ross refused to back down from the statements earlier this week, saying he had no regrets about expressing his thoughts.
"I believe strongly in the right to free speech, but I won't be bullied into trading my patriotism for political correctness by Julian Assange or his army of Twitter trolls," Ross wrote in an email to the Miami New Times.
Now it appears Ross is changing his tune, hoping to assuage the outrage over the comments.
A budding young Democratic lobbyist, Ross is heavily involved in the South Florida Democratic scene, working as a lobbyist, and serving as president of the Miami-Dade Young Democrats. He was the Miami Democratic Party’s district chairman from 2011-2012.
FDP chair Stephen Bittel hand-picked Ross to serve on the party’s legislative committee earlier this year, working hand-in-hand with state lawmakers to push the party’s agenda through the halls of the Florida Capitol.
The FDP had not commented on Ross’ tweets at the time of this article’s release, but not everyone was buying the apology he was selling.
“I don’t believe one word of it,” said Democratic African American Women Caucus president Leslie Wimes. “I believe he was told by the FDP to apologize to get rid of the bad press, but it is exactly how he feels. He is a monster.”
Wimes said Ross needed to ask for forgiveness from the people he wrote about if he felt true remorse.
“If he really wanted to do the right thing, he would apologize to Assange and Snowden,” she said.