The Louisiana leaders who took down Confederate monuments in New Orleans should be lynched, according to Mississippi state representative Karl Oliver. The Republican politician vowed to keep Mississippi leaders from doing the same in his state.
The 54-year-old Oliver represents Mississippi’s 46th district, which includes parts of Carroll, Grenada, Leflore, Montgomery and Webster. The district also includes the ocmmunity of Money, where Emmett Till was killed in August 1955.
Here’s what you need to know about Oliver.
1. Oliver Thinks Louisiana Leaders Should by Lynched for Removing Confederate Statues
On May 19, New Orleans officials removed the last of four Confederate statues they planned to take down. The final one was a 16-foot statue of General Robert E. Lee that stood on a 60-foot base at Tivoli Circle. It was installed in the 1880s. In December 2015, the New Orleaans City Council voted 6-1 to remove the Lee statue and three others.
Oliver, like many protesters who watched the statue come down, was not happy about the removal.
“The destruction of these monuments, erected in the loving memory of our family and fellow Southern Americans, is both heinous and horrific,” Oliver wrote in a May 20 Facebook post that remains public as of May 22. “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.”
Oliver’s post included a photo of the New Orleans Lee statue.
2. Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn Wants Oliver to Apologize
In a statement to Mississippi Today, Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn said he wants Oliver to apologize, but Oliver has not issued a new statement yet.
The comments “do not reflect the views of the Republican Party, the leadership of the House of Representatives or the House as a whole,” Gunn, who has tried to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Mississippi state flag, said. “Using the word ‘lynched’ is inappropriate and offensive. We call on Rep. Oliver to apologize.”
Governor Phil Bryant added, “Rep. Oliver’s language is unacceptable and has no place in civil discourse.”
“The shameful, but seemingly extremely comfortable, choice of words used by my colleague Rep. Karl Oliver, were offensive to me as the act of lynching was commonly used and most targeted toward African American men, women and children in the south and especially in our state,” Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes, head of the Legislative Black Caucus, told Mississippi Today.
3. Oliver Is a Koch-Funded Freshman Legislator Elected in 2015
Oliver is a freshman legislator, winning his seat in 2015. He is a funeral director.
The Jackson Free-Press reports that Oliver’s campaign was backed by the Koch brothers. His campaign received donations from Koch Industries, according to 2015 campaign finance reports. He raised $25,000 for his campaign and bear Democrat Ken Strachan, who raised $38,000, with 56 percent of the vote.
Oliver also received donations from the Mississippi Manufacturers Association and $3,500 from the PAC run by Empower Mississippi. That group backs school choice and charter schools. In 2015, the group fought Initiative 42, which would have forced the state legislature to fully fund public schools. But the initiative failed.
4. Mississippi Still Has the Confederate Battle Emblem in the State Flag
Mississippi still has the Confederate battle emblem – also known as the “stars and bars” – on its state flag. While Georgia successfully removed the emblem, recent attempts to do the same in Mississippi have failed. As The Jackson Free Press reported in February 2016 that Senate and House bills failed to make it past committees.
Gunn has been trying to convince legislators to change the flag, even after legislation failed.
“I will continue to stand by my view that changing the flag is the right thing to do,” Gunn said in 2016. “The flag is going to change. We can deal with it now or leave for future generations to address. I believe our state needs to address it now. I am disappointed that nothing took shape this year, but I will continue this effort.”
In April 2017, a black Mississippi resident tried to sue the state over the flag, calling it state-sanctioned racism. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against him though, saying the emotional damage caused by the flag is irreverent, NPR reported at the time.
5. Oliver’s District Includes Money, Where Emmett Till Was Lynched
As Mississippi Today points out, Oliver’s district includes Money, the same community where Emmett Till was lynched at age 14 for allegedly whistling at a white woman in 1955. Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam were acquitted in the murder, which was credited with sparking the civil rights movement.
The case was back in the news in January 2017, when Carolyn Bryant admitted that some of details she gave that led to her husband and his half-brother being acquitted were not true. Bryant spoke with The Blood of Emmitt Till author Timothy Tyson in 2007, but Tyson didn’t come forward with the quotes until a decade later.
Bryant claimed Till grabbed her hand and asked, “How about a date, baby?” and said an “unprintable word.” Bryant told Tyson, “That part’s not true.”