A photo of a group of young white men in “Team Mitch” (McConnell) shirts posing for a photo with a cardboard cutout of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with one miming choking her and another kissing her cheek, surfaced on Twitter Monday. The caption from the original Instagram post, which has been deleted, read “break me off a piece of that.”
Pictured: seven young white men in “Team Mitch” T-shirts, gathered round a distressed looking cardboard @AOC, groping and kissing her. The caption, “break me off a piece of that.”— feminist next door (@emrazz) August 5, 2019
Future federal judges of America. pic.twitter.com/t877J7Pcye
It wasn’t long before the photo reached the congresswoman herself, and she is asking Senator McConnell for some accountability.
Hey @senatemajldr - these young men look like they work for you.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) August 6, 2019
Just wanted to clarify: are you paying for young men to practice groping & choking members of Congress w/ your payroll, or is this just the standard culture of #TeamMitch?
“Just wanted to clarify,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in her tweet, “are you paying for young men to practice groping & choking members of Congress w/ your payroll, or is this just the standard culture of #TeamMitch?”
A McConnell campaign spokesman did respond Tuesday, saying that the young men in the photo are high school kids not affiliated with the official campaign.
The most powerful man in the nation behaves this way, and these boys feel like they can too. Trump’s vulgar legacy is ruining us. And the effects will last longer than anyone wants to admit. https://t.co/xOqtIPdnyF— Sophia Bush (@SophiaBush) August 6, 2019
“Team Mitch in no way condones any aggressive, suggestive, or demeaning act toward life-sized cardboard cutouts of any gender,” said spokesman Kevin Golden according to the New York Post. “These young men are not campaign staff, they’re high schoolers and it’s incredible that the national media has sought to once again paint a target on their backs rather than report real, and significant news in our country.”
It has also been revealed today that the boys attend a Christian school, the Lexington Christian Academy, which released a statement saying that the young men were at a “non-school event” when they took the photo but that the matter “has been addressed with the students and the families involved.”
Ocasio-Cortez and other congresswomen of color have faced an increasing amount of death threats and suggestions of sexual violence toward them, particularly after Donald Trump singled out four of them to attack in his tweets and campaign speeches.
Many of the congresswoman’s supporters have expressed horror at the photo and are calling for McConnell to personally condemn this kind of behavior.
TW: Sexual abuse of women— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@QasimRashid) August 6, 2019
7 young white men who work for #TeamMitch grope & kiss a cardboard cutout of @AOC w/the caption “break me off a piece of that.”????
They’ve been conditioned to find abuse of women funny????
KY ranks 9th in rate of women murdered by men????
And when one of these guys is up for the Supreme Court someday, Republicans will say AOC’s cardboard image was indeed assaulted - but by a different guy. https://t.co/kKUGnqjmRE— Mimi Rocah (@Mimirocah1) August 6, 2019
Horrifying and Mitch McConnell needs to publicly and loudly denounce this immediately.
— hugh field (@RealHughField) August 5, 2019
It’s the misogyny, stupid. https://t.co/x7WP3qMMda— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) August 5, 2019
The fact that they're "young men from good families with their entire futures ahead of them" is what should fucking terrify ushttps://t.co/xSySYJPpDn— Ben Philippe (@gohomeben) August 5, 2019
Dear @senatemajldr and @Team_Mitch —— Leah McElrath ????️???? (@leahmcelrath) August 5, 2019
What is your comment on these young men enacting the sexual and physical assault of @AOC with a cardboard cutout?
They were so proud of their own behavior, they even tagged @RepAOC in the image and themselves in an accompanying image. pic.twitter.com/JwNS3luS5K
Imagine the response if it was a group of Latinos posing like this with a Melania Trump cutout. They’d be rounded up and arrested. Those white boys should be arrested. I look at this act as threatening sexual and physical violence on a woman. One of the women that Trump attacked.
— Graham Selby (@GrahamSelby2) August 6, 2019
Mitch McConnell himself has still not responded to this photo or to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez.