Livestreaming platform Twitch has declared that a popular emote known as “PogChamp” will be removed from the site after the real-life man behind the meme was accused of promoting further unrest during a riot at the US Capitol.

“We’ve made the decision to remove the PogChamp emote following statements from the face of the emote encouraging further violence after what took place in the Capitol today,” the platform said in a statement on Twitter late on Wednesday night.

We want the sentiment and use of Pog to live on – its meaning is much bigger than the person depicted or image itself– and it has a big place in Twitch culture. However, we can’t in good conscience continue to enable use of the image.

The announcement came after Ryan ‘Gootecks’ Gutierrez, a professional video game player whose exaggerated facial expression inspired the PogChamp meme, took to Twitter earlier on Wednesday to ask whether there would be additional “civil unrest” over a woman who was fatally shot amid the chaos in the nation’s capital.

Many on the site – including Twitch ‘Partners,’ or influencers on the platform – took Gutierrez’s comments as inciting further violence, calling on the company to pull the meme using his visage. Twitch was apparently receptive to the idea, going through with the move soon after the public outcry erupted.

Some were less enthused about the decision, with one netizen observing that Twitch streamers who “support BLM and Antifa” have not faced similar repercussions, despite “past violent actions” by members of both organizations. Other users noted that the PogChamp emote was effectively “the face of Twitch,” questioning the move to permanently scrub it from the site.

Twitch, however, said it would “work with the community to design a new emote for the most hype moments” on the platform, as suggestions for a replacement came pouring in.

A rally to protest the results of the 2020 presidential race descended into violence on Wednesday afternoon, seeing hundreds of supporters of President Donald Trump storm the US Capitol, occupying chambers and smashing windows for several hours before they were removed by law enforcement. The chaotic protest prompted a full deployment of the DC National Guard and a 6pm curfew over the city, as well as an emergency declaration in nearby Virginia, where Governor Ralph Northam also imposed a curfew on select cities.

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© Reuters / Kevin Dietsch
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