The right-wing youth group Turning Point USA has deleted a tweet with a Nicolas Cage meme mocking Americans for wearing protective masks to prevent the spread of the highly contagious novel coronavirus after its cofounder Bill Montgomery died at 80 of complications related to COVID-19.
Two friends of Montgomery confirmed his death to Politico on Wednesday.
In a tweet on Tuesday evening, Charlie Kirk, the group’s chairman, paid tribute to him, describing him as an “American hero.”
“He touched the lives of thousands of young Americans and I will miss him greatly,” Kirk wrote.
An American hero died today.
Bill Montgomery passed away at 80. He believed in me. He poured his heart & soul & time into me. He took a risk on me and without Bill Montgomery, there is no @TPUSA
He touched the lives of thousands of young Americans and I will miss him greatly. pic.twitter.com/hfJpCrLC6d
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) July 28, 2020
The group, established by Kirk and Montgomery in 2012, has used its platform to criticize and undermine public-safety measures designed to slow the spread of the disease, such as wearing face masks.
The tweet mocking masks, posted on Tuesday, featured a meme of Nicolas Cage and the message “me not wearing a mask while a leftist screams at me from their car from across the parking lot at whole foods.”
Folks I regret to inform you that the funniest shit has happened. pic.twitter.com/DxC1krzG7Z
— Aren R. LeBrun (@proustmalone) July 29, 2020
By Thursday morning, Business Insider reports that the tweet was no longer on Turning Point USA’s Twitter feed.
On his podcast on Sunday, Kirk said that mandating that people wear masks was wrong. “Do not force me to wear a mask. It’s that simple,” he said. “I’m not going to do it. I’m not.”
Another tweet posted last week that was critical of face masks remained on the group’s Twitter feed on Thursday.
— Turning Point USA (@TPUSA) July 22, 2020