Rep. Bob Gannon apologized Tuesday for raising his middle finger toward Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca on the floor of the Assembly.
Gannon, R-Slinger, made the gesture and stormed off the Assembly floor during an emotional debate with Milwaukee lawmakers over comments Gannon recently made about crime in black neighborhoods of Milwaukee. He apologized for the gesture, but not for his remarks.
The eruption occurred on the first floor day of the Assembly’s spring 2016 session.
The criticism was brought to the floor by Rep. Mandela Barnes, D-Milwaukee, who blasted Gannon for a press release Gannon issued last week in which he said “murders and mayhem” occurred mostly in black Milwaukee neighborhoods.
“We’ve continued to hear very irresponsible rhetoric from this gentleman,” said Barnes.
Gannon responded Tuesday to Barnes that Milwaukee lawmakers have ignored the level of crime in the city, and criticized Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm for being “too busy” with political investigations to address crime.
“I think it’s racist to ignore that it’s predominantly blacks that are dying,” said Gannon. “Your drugs, your crime knows no border.”
When Barca, D-Kenosha, rose to speak, Gannon raised his middle finger at him and walked off the Assembly floor. Gannon later returned and apologized.
A number of Democratic lawmakers asked Gannon to apologize for his remarks and asked Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, to reprimand Gannon.
“It is wholly inappropriate to give somebody the finger, for God’s sake, on the floor of the Assembly,” said Barca.
Barnes questioned whether Gannon, a known supporter of concealed carry, had a temper appropriate for the Assembly.
“Just imagine, he may have a gun right now. Imagine if he got just a little more mad,” said Barnes.
Even Republicans criticized the gesture.
Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, tweeted an apology.
“I personally apologize for Rep. Gannon shaming the Assembly Chambers with an obscene gesture on the floor this afternoon,” said Kremer.
Vos asked that Gannon’s apology stand and that lawmakers move on to other business.