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Ron Johnson denies being racist after making supportive comments about pro-Trump rioters, criticizing BLM

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said Monday he doesn't understand why people think it's racist that he said he wasn't worried when armed supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 but might have been concerned had the rioters been Black Lives Matter protesters.

On Thursday, Johnson told radio host Joe Pagliarulo that he "knew" the pro-Trump insurrectionists who tried to stop Congress from certifying the election results "were people who love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn't concerned. Now, had the tables been turned, and Joe — this is going to get me in trouble — had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election and tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and antifa [protested], I might have been a little concerned."

More than 40 people have been charged with assaulting law enforcement officials during the riot, with many caught on video punching, dragging, choking, and beating officers. One of the wounded officers, Brian Sicknick, was assaulted with bear spray, and later died; the cause of his death has yet to be determined.

Johnson defended his comments during a radio appearance on Monday, telling WISN-AM that many Black Lives Matter protesters were white, "so there's no racism involved in this at all." Despite telling Pagliarulo his comments were "going to get me in trouble," Johnson claimed that he "completely did not anticipate that anybody could interpret what I said as racist. It's not." Lest anyone think Johnson will reflect on the criticism he has received for his words, he made it clear that he is "not deterred by this. I think people need to understand that. This just, if anything, fires me up more."