POCATELLO — Controversy erupted at the 2018 Idaho GOP convention over a North Idaho lawmaker’s Facebook post that many are viewing as a threat toward a group of protesters.
State Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, posted a photo of herself with protesters on Friday morning and included the text: “Idaho State University students peacefully protesting our Republican convention. Do you think I should show these girls the empty 30mm shell I have in the truck?”
On Saturday, despite the controversy over Giddings’ social media post, the Idaho Republican Party honored her at the convention for her military service.
In the photo Giddings posted she is posing with the students who were protesting at the state GOP convention being held at Holt Arena on ISU’s Pocatello campus. The protesters in the photo were holding signs advocating gun control.
By Friday afternoon, Giddings’ post had already received national media attention, with The New York Times, DailyKos, Associated Press and The Hill among the news outlets reporting on it. The Idaho State Journal received multiple phone calls from people in Idaho and other states upset about Giddings’ “30mm shell” comment.
Giddings said she is going to release a statement in response to her controversial post but as of Saturday she had not yet commented.
Giddings is a former active duty Air Force pilot who flew the A-10 attack aircraft, which is armed with a 30mm cannon. She is currently a member of the Idaho Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.
On Saturday at the convention, a delegate made a motion to recognize Giddings for her military service. The motion passed and Giddings then received a standing ovation from many of those attending the convention.
One delegate noted that Giddings has been receiving death threats because of her controversial social media post.
Many of the social media comments in response to the post have also been highly critical of Giddings. Just six hours after it was published, Giddings’ original Facebook post had more than 2,000 comments, many of them voicing anger at her. By Saturday afternoon, the post had more than 4,000 comments and more than 1,800 shares.
Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, has weighed in on the controversy on Twitter as well, describing Giddings’ Facebook post as “monstrous.”
The Pocatello Police Department and ISU Public Safety officers were seen patrolling the area around Holt Arena on Friday following the post. Law enforcement officials said they received a number of calls regarding Giddings’ Facebook post, with the callers saying they viewed the lawmaker’s “30mm shell” comment as a threat toward the protesters.
Giddings is up for re-election in November but is running unopposed.
The Idaho Democratic Party released a statement regarding Giddings’ Facebook post.
“The Idaho Democratic Party respects and upholds the Idaho State University students’ right to peaceful protest,” the state Democratic Party’s statement said. “We respect all Idahoans and would hope that anyone running for public office would as well.”
Idaho State University also released a statement in response to Giddings’ post.
“Idaho State University supports the right of all people, including students, to peacefully exercise free speech,” the ISU statement read.