GOP lawmaker claims free speech right to call for lynching of anti-Confederate elected officials
A Mississippi lawmaker argues that he was exercising his free speech rights when he called for elected to be “lynched” for removing Confederate flags and monuments from public display.
Lawyers for state Rep. Karl Oliver (R-Winona) responded to a lawsuit filed against him by attorney and activist Carlos Moore, who asked the court to order the Republican lawmaker to read books about Emmett Till and other black Americans who were lynched, reported WJTV-TV.
Oliver’s attorneys filed a 24-point defense of the lawmaker, who they argued was not acting in his official capacity when he called for “Nazi-ish” elected officials to be hanged.
“The destruction of these monuments, erected in the loving memory of our family and fellow Southern Americans, is both heinous and horrific,” Oliver posted in May on his personal Facebook page. “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.”
Attorneys disputed Moore’s complaint that the threat was specific, and they argued that Oliver was protected against the lawsuit by both the First and 11th Amendments.
Oliver’s attorneys argued that Moore lacked standing to file the suit, which did not name the state as a defendant, and asked the court to dismiss the case and order the plaintiff to repay the lawmaker’s legal fees.
Moore, who has worked to remove Confederate imagery from the Mississippi state flag, asked the court to order Oliver to read the books, “The Blood of Emmett Till,” by Timothy Tyson, and “At The Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America,” by Phillip Dray.
The attorney sought a court order requiring Oliver to submit written summaries of at least 3,000 words of both history books.