Mon Monday night, when the business of the House and Senate were done, Rep. Jeramy Anderson (District 110) raised one more point of business prior to sine die.
The House’s youngest representative filed a resolution to discuss the expulsion of Rep. Karl Oliver, following the comments he made regarding lynching New Orleans officials for the removal of Confederate flags. For the resolution to be taken up, there had to be a 2/3 majority vote in favor of suspending the rules.
By a vote of 66-32, the motion to suspend the rules failed. However, lawmakers took to the well on points of privilege to discuss the impacts of Oliver’s Facebook post on not only fellow lawmakers, but constituents and the image of the State of Mississippi.
“It is hard for me to work with someone who I believe is a racist and a bigot,” said Rep. Oscar Denton. “He makes this body look bad–all of us. This makes us all look bad. It impacts the State of Mississippi.”
Denton continued, turning his attention to Oliver directly.
“I am disappointed that you–a member of this body– would use that language about something that’s not even going on in this state,” said Denton. “You ask for my forgiveness. I pray to God that I can.”
Several others spoke against the representative’s post, some citing their own memories of lynching from their youth. Rep. Kathy Sykes, representing Hinds county, spoke of a relative of hers that, in an attempt to keep a white woman he worked for from getting involved with a man he didn’t believe was right for her, was found, beaten, shot, and tied to a truck in Raymond until his body fell apart in Raymond in the 1940s.
Rep. Adrienne Wooten, also representing Hinds county, said that the failure to vote to suspend the rules was creating a problem much bigger than the Facebook statements.
“There are talks of a race war,” said Wooten. “And you’re sitting there smirking.. I’m not the one to be smirking at.”
Wooten said it was fear that motivated the vote to refuse the suspension of the rules.
“You want to protect your own? Well, I want to protect mine,” said Wooten. “If we want to start allowing this kind of thing, be ready…I would ask that something more be done.. something that indicates something of that nature won’t be tolerated.”
Between 1870-1950 in Mississippi, 624 people were lynched.
Rep. Oliver deleted the post and issued an apology after the Facebook comments sparked a controversy. Speaker of the House Philip Gunn also stripped him of his chairmanship.
While Oliver was said to have apologized to individuals within the House, he made no public comment from the floor.