A black Mississippi senator on Monday explained why newly-uncovered comments by his white Republican opponent joking about attending a “public hanging” are so hurtful in a state known for its history of lynchings.
While praising a rancher during a November 2 campaign stop, US Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith said that if the man standing with her “invited me to a public hanging, I’d be in the front row.”
As Ashton Pittman of the Jackson Free Press noted, Hyde-Smith’s Democratic opponent Mike Espy is the state’s “first black congressman since Reconstruction.” Pittman also noted that Mississippi was the state with the most lynchings between 1877-1950.
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Mississippi, says she would be "on the front row" at "a public hanging." She is running against Mike Espy (@espyforsenate), who in 1987 became Mississippi's first black congressman since Reconstruction. MS was state w most lynchings in 1877-1950. #MSSen pic.twitter.com/Ghp3b3fpVA
— Ashton Pittman (@ashtonpittman) November 11, 2018
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews noted that in response to the comments going viral, the senator who was appointed by the state’s governor in April 2018 after the resignation of longtime Sen. Thad Cochran said she “used an exaggerated expression of regard” and that “any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.”
In Mississippi, Sen Cindy Hyde-Smith R-MS issues this statement pic.twitter.com/zGXjxLsvNW
— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) November 11, 2018
“I have to confess to you,” Espy told the MSNBC host. “I’ve never heard that time of colloquialism.”
The former Agriculture secretary under President Bill Clinton said Hyde-Smith’s comments were not only “disappointing to millions of Mississippians of good will,” but also were “very harmful.”
“It again reinforces stereotypes that we’ve been trying to get away from for decades,” he said. “Stereotypes that just continue to harm our economy and costs us jobs.”
“I can’t reach into her heart and determine why that came out of her mouth,” Espy said. “But it was wrong.”
The former congressman noted that he sits on the board of directors at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and knows “that history very well.”
“It’s got a lynching or public hanging exhibit, and it’s visceral and it’s sobering,” Espy said. “You just — when you go through that, it’s got a list of every Mississippian from Reconstruction through the mid ’60s that were lynched and it’s got their name and the allegations, you know, for that punishment.”
“These comments from a sitting U.S. senator have harmed our state and it’s just — you know, we have to get beyond this now,” he added. “It’s 2018. We’re now going into the third decade of our 21st century. It’s time-out for these type of comments, throwback comments.”
Watch below via MSNBC:
WATCH: Video shows NYPD beating anti-police violence protesters with batons
Protesters of police violence received a harsh reception from the New York Police Department on Friday evening.
The protesters had marched to the Barclays Center, where they were met with a large police presence.
Heavy police presence posted outside of Barclays Center. If you’re protesting, please stay safe.
Trump is enacting the presidency ‘George Wallace never had’: Conservative columnist
On Friday, writing for The Washington Post, conservative columnist Max Boot tore into President Donald Trump's legacy on race.
"We know how a normal president responds when a white police officer ignites furious protests by killing a black man. It is the way President Barack Obama responded in 2014 after a grand jury refused to indict a white police officer who had fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and the National Guard had to be called in to deal with looting and fires," wrote Boot. "Obama expressed sympathy for the protesters — their anger, he noted, was 'rooted in realities that have existed in this country for a long time' — while making clear that he had no sympathy with violence: 'Burning buildings, torching cars, destroying property, putting people at risk — that’s destructive and there’s no excuse for it. Those are criminal acts. And people should be prosecuted if they engage in criminal acts.'"
White House goes into lockdown as George Floyd protests in DC rage hotter
On Friday, CBS News reporter Weijia Jiang reported that the White House has now issued lockdown orders.
The development comes as protests against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota have spread to Washington, D.C. and crowds are growing angrier. Earlier in the evening, a protester scaled the wall of a federal building and spray-painted an obscene anti-Trump message above a window.
The White House is currently under lockdown orders. https://t.co/LasnCIjkum