Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer did not incite violence against President Donald Trump following his recent criticism of her during one of his campaign rallies. Some of the president’s supporters as well as others on social media claimed that Whitmer had encouraged violence against the president after she appeared on Meet the Press Sunday with a visible sign ready "8645," though the meaning of that sign has largely been misconstrued.
Located just behind her during the interview, and in clear sight for viewers, some believed that the numbers were a call to violence. The Trump War Room, one of President Trump's campaign accounts, said that "86 can be shorthand for killing someone." The "45" that was visible, some believed, was in reference to Trump, the 45th President of the United States. The Trump War Room concluded that "Whitmer is encouraging assassination attempts against President Trump just weeks after someone sent a ricin-laced package to the White House." Several others seemed to have come to the same conclusion.
In case you aren't clear about how Wikipedia works, people have been adding "killing someone" to the "86'ed" page all day.
This is how the GOP is trying to close out their campaign - claiming Gretchen Whitmer was inciting violence. https://t.co/04srWCBPGX— Dave Hogg (@stareagle) October 19, 2020
As many others pointed out, however, the sign was not an encouragement of violence. While some understood "86" to be shorthand for "killing someone." Wikipedia states that "eighty-six, eighty-sixed, 86ed, or 86'd is American English slang for canceling something, getting rid of something (by burying it), ejecting someone, or refusing service." The Post Millenial reports that St. Louis Magazine's dining columnist George Mahe, meanwhile, said the term has multiple origins, several of which are restaurant-related to mean "eject" or "evict." While the numbers visible during the interview can be viewed in two different ways, it is likely that Whitmer was simply encouraging people to vote the president out of office.
Michigan Gov. Whitmer appeared on Meet the Press Sunday while having a visible pin that read “8645." Supporters of the president took 86-45 as an incitement of violence against the 45th president. https://t.co/nrRvaB1PHf— Local 4 WDIV Detroit (@Local4News) October 18, 2020
The president and the governor have had a notably contentious relationship, with Trump oftentimes criticizing her at his campaign rallies. Trump recently faced backlash after he told supporters at his rally in Muskegon, Michigan that they "got to get your governor to open up your state. Okay? And get your schools open. Get your schools open. The schools have to be open, right?" Those calls led to chants of "lock her up." Those remarks came just after federal authorities announced earlier this month that Whitmer was the target of a thwarted kidnapping plot.