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Sept. 13, 2019, 5:22 p.m. EDT

#BoycottABC trending after the network aired an ad showing AOC’s photo on fire during the Democratic debate

Critics are likening the advert to a death threat against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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By Nicole Lyn Pesce


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U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was targeted in a violent political ad.

Viewers are threatening to boycott ABC after the network aired a political advertisement that featured a burning photo of New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez during Thursday night’s Democratic debate.

The inflammatory spot showed Ocasio-Cortez’s picture burning while Elizabeth Heng, a Republican activist from California, called AOC “the face of socialism and ignorance. Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez know the horror of socialism?”

Hang then compared Ocasio-Cortez’s politics to the ones that spurred the Cambodian genocide, calling socialism “forced obedience, starvation.

“Mine is a face of freedom,” she added. “My skin is not white. I’m not outrageous, racist, nor socialist. I’m a Republican.”

Related: Democrats square off on trade, gun control, health care in Houston debate: live blog

The ad was paid for by Heng’s New Faces of GOP PAC, which is dedicated to fighting against “extreme, socialist Democrats” and to “elevate the next generation of Republicans.”

AOC responded on Twitter /zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite TWTR -0.75%   that, “Republicans are running TV ads setting pictures of me on fire to convince people they aren’t racist. Life is weird!”

She also tweeted, “Know that this wasn’t an ad for young conservatives of color — that was the pretense. What you just watched was a love letter to the GOP’s white supremacist case.”

But many on Twitter were outraged at the violent ad, with #BoycottABC trending on Friday morning, as well as calls to boycott Sinclair Broadcast Group /zigman2/quotes/208678879/composite SBGI +3.04% , the D.C. broadcasting syndicate that aired the controversial advert. Some likened the act to a death threat. Others condemned the depiction of violence against a woman, and a congresswoman at that.

Neither Disney-owned /zigman2/quotes/203410047/composite DIS +1.15%  ABC nor Sinclair responded to MarketWatch requests for comment by presstime.

AOC wasn’t the only Democrat targeted during last night’s debate. After candidate Beto O-Rourke said, “Hell yes, we’re gonna take your AR-15,” a Republican lawmaker from Texas tweeted that his own “AR” is “ready for him.” O’Rourke responded to Briscoe Cain that, “This is a death threat, Representative. Clearly, you shouldn’t own an AR-15—and neither should anyone else.”

Related: Texas representative tweets Beto O’Rourke that his ‘AR is ready for you’

And in July, the U.S. Border Patrol began investigating a secret Facebook group run by its own agents that had shared graphic, doctored posts of Ocasio-Cortez, including one that showed a smiling President Donald Trump forcing her head toward his crotch.

“It’s just indicative of the violent culture that we saw” at the border facility that she toured, she said at the time.

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