State Rep. Jason Spencer told his former colleague LaDawn Jones that people “go missing in the Okefenokee” when they talk about removing statues commemorating the nation’s Confederate history. Threats like this are absolutely unacceptable, particularly in a political climate where people of color are experiencing deadly violence at the hands of white supremacists.
After Spencer posted a picture of himself on Facebook posing near a Jefferson Davis memorial, Jones commented that Confederate memorials would ultimately come down, saying “we will not let you hide hate behind heritage.”
Spencer, a white Republican representing a southern, coastal Georgia district centered on Woodbine, told Jones, “I can guarantee you won’t be met with torches but something a lot more definitive. People in South Georgia are people of action, not drama.”
Let’s keep in mind that we are living in a time when people still leave nooses at black churches — as happened earlier this month at St. Johns Primitive Baptist Church in neighboring Alabama — as a way to intimidate African Americans.
Jones, a black woman who used to represent parts of Atlanta, took the comments in good humor, telling the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “If that had come from anybody else, I’d take it as a serious threat.”
But, she added, “if that’s representative of what people in south Georgia think, then yikes.”
Spencer has insisted that his comments were not intended to be a threat against Jones, and he was only “trying to warn her that there really are people who would harm others over the issue.”
Alright, so rather than directly threatening her he was just reminding her that she would face violence — at someone else’s hand — because she spoke against the Confederate monuments. That’s better?
A white man promoting that violence will happen to a black woman is not okay. And these threats should not be taken lightly. Even if Spencer’s words are being “misinterpreted,” they still send the message that threatening African-Americans or others over their opposition to confederate memorials is okay. As someone who is an elected official, his use of threatening language is unacceptable.
Better Georgia is calling on Rep. Spencer to resign.