Convicted pedophile Scott Ritter has pulled out of a Libertarian Party-sponsored anti-war rally later this month following outcry over his criminal history.
Ritter, a former United Nations weapons inspector, announced that "for personal reasons" he will no longer be speaking at the "Rage Against the War Machine" rally at the Lincoln Memorial on Feb. 19. The Libertarian Party and People’s Party, a left-wing group, are holding the event to protest U.S. support for Ukraine. They are also calling to "slash" the Pentagon budget and "abolish" the CIA.
Ritter’s withdrawal caps a tumultuous behind-the-scenes debate over whether he should appear at the rally. Libertarian Party leaders asked Ritter to withdraw from the event last week after a Washington Free Beacon report about his criminal past. Ritter was detained twice in 2001 after he arranged meetings with undercover police officers posing as a 14-year-old girl and 15-year-old girl. He was sentenced to prison in 2011 after he masturbated online in front of an undercover cop posing as a 15-year-old girl.
Ritter was reinstated to the event after outcry from some of his fellow speakers. Andrew Napolitano, a former Fox News analyst, rallied to Ritter’s defense. So did Tara Reade, the former Joe Biden aide who has leveled unconfirmed sexual assault allegations against the president.
Libertarians called on Ritter again to drop out earlier this week, citing both his sex offender status as well as his comments that Ukraine was akin to a "rabid dog" that needed to be put down by Russia.
Ritter released text from the speech he planned to give at the rally. In it, Ritter strikes a decidedly pro-Russia tone and recites from Martin Luther King Jr.’s "I Have a Dream" speech, which the civil rights leader gave at the Lincoln Memorial nearly 60 years ago.
"I too have a dream," Ritter says in his prepared remarks. "That by overcoming the hate generated by systemic Russophobia we can work with our fellow human beings in Russia to create communities of compassion that, when united, make a world filled with nuclear weapons undesirable, and policies built on the principles of mutually beneficial arms control second nature."
Nick Brana, the head of the People’s Party, said it was "a shame" that Ritter pulled out of the event.
"Scott Ritter is a hero who has done more to stop war and save lives than almost anyone on Earth," said Brana, who served as national political outreach coordinator for Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign.