On Friday, the Atlanta Black Star reported that Jim Johnson, the sheriff of Lee County, Mississippi, made a racist comment about Hispanic GOP state Rep. Shane Aguirre while complaining about his opposition to the construction of a new county jail outside Tupelo.
Aguirre, Johnson told white Lee County Supervisor Phil Morgan in a 2017 text message first released Tuesday by the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, was “worse than a black person.”
He also praised Mike Smith, another white Lee County supervisor, for trying to block black county supervisor Tommie Lee Ivy from using taxpayer funds to attend the state’s minority supervisors’ caucus, telling him, “Whatever you do, please don’t let them back you down. You owe them nothing.”
In additional text messages @CalebBedillion obtained, Johnson praised District 2 Supervisor Mike Smith after Smith publicly attacked the practice of black elected officials forming caucus organizations. https://t.co/bMynvuJeMB pic.twitter.com/mSOHTpvVyk
— Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (@DJournalnow) August 14, 2019
Smith later apologized for those efforts, but doubled down on the sentiment, saying that he opposed the existence of the black supervisors’ caucus for trying to “take us back” to a “race-based mindset” and adding, “I think the NAACP is an organization that is trying to stand up for a group of people. I don’t know enough about it, because I don’t attend. I’m not a member.”
Johnson also recently drew attention after the Daily Journal asked him whether he thinks black people are difficult to please. “I think when you play the race card, yes, it’s difficult to please some people,” he replied.