A Maryland state official was fired Saturday after sharing social media posts supporting Kyle Rittenhouse, who prosecutors say killed two people and severely wounded a third last week during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Arthur "Mac" Love IV had served as deputy director for the Governor's Office of Community Initiatives, which is responsible for outreach to diverse ethnic groups and faith communities. He had been in the role since January 2015, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Maryland lawmaker Eric Luedtke, a Democratic state delegate, was among those who called for Love's firing. He tweeted Saturday that Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, should "make clear that such a viewpoint has no place in state government" and described the posts as "horrific."
Luedtke tweeted a screenshot of one of Love's Facebook posts Saturday, a meme of a grinning white police officer holding two thumbs up with the words, "Don't be a thug if you can't take a slug!"
"This is one of the FB posts by Governor Hogan's Deputy Director of Community Initiatives. Who oversees — I'm not kidding — the Commission on African American History and Culture. Fire him, @GovLarryHogan, and issue the Exec Order on use of force you should've issued months ago," Luedtke tweeted.
Love also reposted pictures that appear to show Rittenhouse cleaning graffiti, the Baltimore Sun reported. The original poster wrote: "I'm grateful that conservatives are rallying behind this kid. He genuinely seems like a good person," according to the newspaper.
Steven McAdams, the executive director for the Governor's Office of Community Initiatives, said in a statement Tuesday that he had relieved Love of his duties Saturday.
"These divisive images and statements are inconsistent with the mission and core values of the Office of Community Initiatives," McAdams said. "Kevin Craft, administrative director of the Governor’s Commission on African Affairs, will assume these duties effective immediately."
Shareese Churchill, a spokeswoman for the governor, applauded McAdams for acting swiftly.
"These posts are obviously totally inappropriate," she said in a statement. "We fully support the immediate actions taken by Director McAdams to address this matter."
NBC News reached out to Love, whose friend and spokesman, Gary Collins, acknowledged the former state employee had shared the posts.
"He believes that in the United States, all people deserve their fair shot and due process," Collins said Tuesday. "Ironically enough, Mr. Love did not receive due process in the termination of his employment with Gov. Hogan's office."
Love is in discussion with "multiple attorneys" and plans to take legal action, Collins said. Love told reporters Monday, “I'm not asking, nor do I want my job back," but also added, "I just want my life back. I'm an innocent American."
In a subsequent tweet Saturday, Luedtke, who is the majority leader for Maryland's House of Delegates, said that Love had been fired, "as he should have been."
Rittenhouse, 17, of Antioch, Illinois, is charged with killing two people and wounding another when he opened fire with an AR-15-style rifle during a night of unrest in Kenosha sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse is also facing two charges of reckless endangerment and a misdemeanor count of possession of a dangerous weapon under the age of 18. Some of the incident was captured on cellphone video. At one point in a video, Rittenhouse can be heard saying, "I just killed somebody," according to a criminal complaint filed by the Kenosha County district attorney.
Rittenhouse's attorney, John Pierce, has said he was acting in self-defense.
"This was classic self-defense and we are going to prove it," Pierce said last week. "We will obtain justice for Kyle no matter how hard the fight or how long it takes."
Kenosha is about 40 miles southeast of Milwaukee. Blake, who is Black, was shot seven times by a white officer at close range and is paralyzed from the waist down.
At a news conference Monday, President Donald Trump refused to denounce the actions of Rittenhouse.
"That was an interesting situation. You saw the same tape as I saw, and he was trying to get away from them, I guess. It looks like. And he fell. And then they very violently attacked him and it was something that we're looking at right now and it's under investigation,” Trump said. “But I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would have been killed, but it's under investigation."