U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK) speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats to American security, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 11, 2024.

Julia Nikhinson | Reuters

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ar., on Tuesday doubled down on earlier comments encouraging people stuck in traffic caused by cease-fire protests to “take matters into their own hands” and forcibly remove the demonstrators from the roads.

Cotton posted a video on X on Tuesday showing people dragging protestors off the roads by their legs and their jacket hoods, tossing them to the curb to let cars through.

“How it should be done,” the senator wrote in the post.

On Monday, traffic came to an hours-long standstill on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and in major cities like Chicago, Seattle and New York as demonstrators planted themselves on the roads to draw attention to the war in Gaza.

“If something like this happened in Arkansas, on a bridge there, let’s just say I think there would be a lot of very wet criminals that had been tossed overboard not by law enforcement, but by the people whose road they’re blocking,” Cotton said in a Fox News interview on Monday.

“If they glued their hands to a car or the pavement, well, probably pretty painful to have their skin ripped off but I think that’s how we would handle it in Arkansas and I would encourage most people anywhere that get stuck behind criminals like this who are trying to block traffic to take matters into their own hands.”

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The senator stirred some controversy Monday night after taking that message to social media, again urging drivers blocked by the protestors to “take matters into your own hands” in a post on X. Minutes later, Cotton updated that post, clarifying that drivers should “take matters into your own hands to get them out of the way.”

Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for President Barack Obama, was among the critics who bashed Cotton on social media for his comments: “Just a U.S. Senator calling for vigilante violence.”

This sort of rhetoric from Cotton has become routine for the Arkansas senator who also faced backlash in 2020 for similar calls for violence in a New York Times op-ed. In the piece, Cotton called on the federal government to use the Insurrection Act to “send in the troops” against those protesting in response to the killing of George Floyd.

The essay drew a flurry of online criticism, against both Cotton and the New York Times for deciding to publish it. Days later, then-New York Times Opinion Editor James Bennet resigned from his post.

Cotton’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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