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Republican lawmaker slammed for false claims about ‘illegal invaders’ airport buses

Representative Matt Maddock thought NCAA basketball team buses at Detroit Metro were ‘illegals’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Friday 29 March 2024 13:59 GMT
Related video: Purdue-Gonzaga rematch highlights NCAA Midwest Regional games being played in Detroit

Republican Michigan state representative Matt Maddock is facing widespread criticism after he mistook several men’s basketball teams for “illegal invaders”.

Mr Maddock posted two images on X on Wednesday night, writing: “Happening right now. Three busses just loaded up with illegal invaders at Detroit Metro. Anyone have any idea where they’re headed with their police escort?”

“We know this is happening,” he added. “100,000’s of illegals are pouring into our country. We know it’s happening in Michigan. Our own governor is offering money to take them in! Since we can’t trust the #FakeNews to investigate, citizens will. The process of investigating these issues takes time.”

The buses were in fact carrying basketball players being escorted by police to the NCAA Men’s Sweet Sixteen. One of the photos showed an Allegiant Airlines jet at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW).

A WCAA spokesperson told the Detriot Free Press: “The four men’s basketball teams competing in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 at Little Caesars Arena arrived at DTW Wednesday evening. The buses seen in a photograph circulating online were transporting the basketball teams and their respective staffs.”

It remains unclear if Mr Maddock took the photos – the airport is not a part of his district.

Mr Maddock faced widespread mockery because of the mishap, with California Democrat Eric Swalwell writing: “Hey Einstein, your state is hosting the Sweet 16. Could it be a team bus? If it is, will you resign for your spectacular stupidity?”

“Have you been screened for tertiary syphilis, friend?” broadcaster Keith Olbermann asked. “It’s a college basketball team. Honest to God, don’t leave your house without a human escort keeping you safe with a baby leash.”

“If we don’t do something, America will soon be overrun by 6’8” wings with excellent midrange games,” Bryan Mac added.

“The brain rot in the GOP runs deep,” conservative attorney George Conway said.

Political scientist Norman Ornstein added: “Dear Matt Maddock: you are an extremist and a serial liar. Delete your account and resign from any position of public service.”

Podcaster David Roberts noted: “Man, being a reactionary sounds like hell. Just scared, all the time, of everything. Phantasms & bogeymen everywhere you look.”

Michigan State Senate majority whip Mallory McMorrow wrote on X: “A sitting state representative sees a group of busses at the airport and immediately yells ‘illegal invaders’ which is a pretty rude (and also, frankly, dangerous) way to greet the Gonzaga Men’s Basketball Team arriving for March Madness.”

Joey Cappelletti of the Associated Press added, “Even after the airport confirmed these buses were transporting college basketball teams, Maddock refused to back down from his false claims in a text to @AP. He said that he hasn’t ‘heard a good answer yet’, and that ‘this is happening in many places’”.

“Maddock and so many Republicans across the country are carelessly using militaristic language to describe an already-marginalised group of people,” the executive director of Progress Michigan, a progressive advocacy organisation, said in a statement to news outlets. “This type of dehumanisation inevitably leads to violence and we cannot let Republicans get away with using it to divide our communities and put people in danger.”

The Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, Lavors Barnes, said: “Is this how Donald Trump suggested the [Michigan Republicans] engage people of colour in Michigan? These racist social media posts are more disgusting examples of how bigotry has rotted the Michigan Republican Party from top to bottom – they can’t look at a basketball team without going into a conspiracy-fueled frenzy.”

“And it’s not just the so-called fringe members – everyone from [Michigan Republican Party chair] Pete Hoekstra to [Minority Leader of the Michigan House of Representatives] Matt Hall is clearly susceptible to these extreme views as they continue to carry water for Trump’s Maga agenda here in Michigan,” she added.

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