A Republican state representative in Maine is standing by her previous comments defending the right of neo-Nazis to organize and conduct paramilitary drills.

Rep. Laurel Libby, who represents the capital city of Augusta, previously spoke out against legislation that would ban unauthorized paramilitary activity. In a video that has since gone viral after being tweeted by the Maine House Democratic Campaign Committee, Libby is seen in the state capitol not only speaking out against the bill’s restrictions on paramilitary groups, but going a step further to defend groups that call for the eradication of marginalized groups.

“Let’s talk about the Nazis,” Libby said. “I would like to know what they did that was illegal. I would like to know what they did, in detail if folks would like to share, that was wrong, that infringed on another person’s right. Holding a rally, and even holding a rally with guns, is not illegal.”

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Libby further elaborated on her position by stating that while she personally didn’t agree with neo-Nazi groups, she nonetheless felt compelled to defend their Constitutionally protected rights.

“We don’t have to like what they stand for. We don’t have to agree with their positions. We don’t have to think well of them,” she said. “But you know what we do have to do? We have to protect their First Amendment right to free speech and association.”

The Maine Republican is not backing down from her remarks, accusing Democrats of “intentional manipulation of the facts.” She insisted to USA TODAY that her comments were taken out of context, saying, “I don’t have to like those actions, but it is my job to protect them.” She also compared neo-Nazis holding paramilitary drills to protected political speech akin to kneeling during the national anthem or burning the American flag.

“We don’t have to like the neo-Nazi activities,” she said. “They have a right to free speech and the freedom of association.”

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Democrats in the Maine legislature argued that the context in which the bill was introduced was also important. The anti-paramilitary bill was introduced in response to white supremacist Christopher Pohlhaus — who co-founded the neo-Nazi group Blood Tribe — attempting to create a military training center for neo-Nazis in rural Maine.

“You ever been at work, just doing your job and enjoying the day when one of your coworkers stands up and asks why Nazis are so bad? No? Well, lemme tell ya ‘bout my day,” tweeted Democratic state representative Amy Roeder.

The anti-paramilitary training bill ultimately passed the Maine House of Representatives by just one vote.

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