Politics

GOP lawmaker: Politicians in favor of tearing down Confederate symbols should be 'lynched'

State rep's Facebook post triggers backlash

(CNN) - A Mississippi Republican lawmaker has apologized after calling for the lynching of politicians who approve of the removal of Confederate monuments.

State Rep. Karl Oliver expressed his frustration over the weekend with a growing movement to get rid of monuments that critics say celebrate slavery.

"The destruction of these monuments, erected in the loving memory of our family and fellow Southern Americans, is both heinous and horrific," he posted on Facebook Saturday. "If the, and I use this term extremely loosely, 'leadership' of Louisiana wishes to, in a Nazi-ish fashion, burn books or destroy historical monuments of OUR HISTORY, they should be LYNCHED!"

"Let it be known, I will do all in my power to prevent this from happening in our state," added Oliver, who has been in the state legislature since 2016.

But after widespread criticism from both sides of the political aisle, the post was removed from Oliver's account and the lawmaker said he was "very sorry" Monday.

"I, first and foremost, wish to extend this apology for any embarrassment I have caused to both my colleagues and fellow Mississippians," he said in a statement. "In an effort to express my passion for preserving all historical monuments, I acknowledge the word 'lynched' was wrong."

"I am very sorry. It is in no way, ever, an appropriate term. I deeply regret that I chose this word, and I do not condone the actions I referenced, nor do I believe them in my heart," Oliver added. "I freely admit my choice of words was horribly wrong, and I humbly ask your forgiveness."

Several of the state's top Republicans, including Mississippi GOP chairman Joe Nosef, condemned the remarks when reached for comment Monday.

"Rep. Oliver's comments were offensive, do not represent the Mississippi Republican Party and have no place in our public discourse," Nosef said in a statement. "I hope he will quickly clear up his remarks to make his point without these inappropriate comments."

In response, several users posted photos of black Americans being lynched in Oliver's Facebook thread, while others called for him to leave office.

The state's Democratic Party didn't have an immediate response. But David McDowell, the head of the Mississippi Democratic Trust, an organization that helps elect Democrats to office, said Oliver's "very treacherous and threatening language" was "shocking."

"Mississippi's history of lynchings is a long and sordid one, a history we should often reflect upon and never take lightly," he said. "Words like these aren't to be thrown around. Representative Oliver should be ashamed of himself; he knows better."

Onlookers cheered Friday as a crane hoisted the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the top of a monument in New Orleans.

The statue was the fourth Civil War-era landmark the city has removed since late April. The removal of New Orleans' controversial monuments has been part of a nationwide debate over Confederate symbols.

While critics argue that they celebrate slavery and racial injustice, others, like Oliver, say they represent history and heritage.


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