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State Lawmaker: Sorry For Saying Confederate Statue Removers 'Should Be Lynched'

A Mississippi lawmaker apologized Monday for saying the Louisiana leaders who supported the recent removal of four Confederate monuments "should be LYNCHED!" Karl Oliver, a GOP state representative, had made the comment in a Facebook post this weekend.

Here is the original statement:

"The destruction of these monuments, erected in the loving memory of our family and fellow Southern Americans, is both heinous and horrific. 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."

The post was later removed, but not before two other state lawmakers liked it, according to Mississippi Today.

By Monday, however, Oliver had second thoughts.

"In an effort to express my passion for preserving all historical monuments, the word 'lynched' was wrong. I am very sorry," the first-term lawmaker said — also in a post on Facebook. "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. I freely admit my choice of words was horribly wrong, and I humbly ask your forgiveness."

Republican state officials condemned the original post, according to the Associated Press:

"Gov. Phil Bryant and House Speaker Philip Gunn ... condemned Oliver's post.

" 'Rep. Oliver's language is unacceptable and has no place in civil discourse,' Bryant said in a statement. ...

"Gunn said Oliver's remarks 'do not reflect the views of the Republican party, the leadership of the House of Representatives or the House as a whole.' "

Oliver defeated a 24-year incumbent in 2015. His district includes the community of Money, where 14-year-old Emmett Till was lynched in 1955.

Oliver is also president and director of Oliver Funeral Home in Winona, Miss., about 90 miles north of Jackson, The Guardian notes.

The Facebook post came one day after officials removed a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in New Orleans. It was the fourth taken down after the city council voted in 2015 to remove the monuments many in the majority-black city called offensive.

The push to remove tributes to the Confederacy gained momentum in 2015 after white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine black parishioners in a church in Charleston, S.C.

After the killing, state lawmakers in South Carolina voted to stop flying the Confederate flag on the grounds of the statehouse. And Alabama's governor also ordered them removed from the state Capitol.

But Mississippi has resisted such calls: It is the last in the nation to bear a Confederate emblem in its state flag.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Kathy Goldgeier
Kathy Goldgeier is NPR's Network Hub Content Manager. She is part of a team reimagining the collaboration between NPR and Member stations. She works closely with the regional news hubs that bring stations together to share resources, coordinate coverage and reach new audiences.
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