Family Research Council head: Southern Poverty Law Center gave gunman ‘a license to shoot’

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At a Thursday press conference Family Research Council President Tony Perkins partially blamed the left-leaning Southern Poverty Law Center for the Wednesday shooting in the lobby of his organization’s headquarters.

Keeping his comments short, Perkins thanked ideologically opposed organizations for their good wishes and expressions of outrage at the shooting, but asked that they take their sentiments further and end the “reckless rhetoric that [he] believe[s] led to yesterday’s incident.”

“Let me be clear, Floyd Corkins was responsible for firing the shot yesterday that wounded one of our colleagues Leo Johnson, but Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations ‘hate groups’ because they disagree with their public policy,” Perkins said. “And I believe the Southern Poverty Law Center should be held accountable for their reckless use of terminology that is leading to the intimidation and what the FBI has categorized as an act of domestic terrorism.”

Saying that he did not want to get into the weeds of the investigation, Perkins explained that he saw Corkins’ possession of over a dozen Chick-fil-A sandwiches during the time of the attack indicated there was a link to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s rhetoric.

“We know that he was carrying 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches as well as 50 rounds of ammunition. That is not something you carry out to the park for a picnic,” Perkins said.

The FRC president noted that in recent weeks Chick-fil-A has faced criticism for its opposition to same-sex marriage and past donations to groups like the FRC. Perkins’ organization has been repeatedly labeled a Southern Poverty Law Center-deemed “hate group” in news reports. (RELATED: White House won’t say if FRC shooting was a ‘hate crime’)

“We have seen that term used increasingly in the last two years and it marginalized individuals and organizations — letting people feel free to go do bodily harm to innocent people who simply work representing folks all across the country,” said Perkins.

Perkins said the FRC had received other threats, which were turned over to authorities.

The alleged shooter Corkins was charged Thursday with with assault with intent to kill.

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