White Mississippi lawmaker’s lynching remark leads to private apologies

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In this Dec. 12, 2016 file photo, Rep. Karl Oliver, R-Winona, listens to discussion during a meeting of the House Corrections Committee at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

JACKSON, Miss. — A white Mississippi lawmaker has been privately apologizing to some of his black colleagues, more than two weeks after saying people should be lynched for removing Confederate monuments.

Legislators were in session Monday for the first time since Republican Rep. Karl Oliver of Winona posted the remark to Facebook on May 20. His post came after New Orleans pulled down three Confederate statues and a monument to white supremacy. He said Louisiana leaders were acting like Nazis and said, in all capital letters that they should be “LYNCHED.”

Oliver posted a general apology on Facebook May 22. He said Monday he stands by that apology and is offering one-on-one apologies to black colleagues who will listen.

Democratic Rep. Bryant Clark of Pickens, who is black, said Oliver sought him out Monday to express regret for the lynching remark.

Clark, who sits near Oliver in the House chamber, said Oliver told him the post “did not come from his heart.”

Clark said he accepts that, but thinks Oliver should stand before the House and offer a broader apology. Oliver said he doesn’t plan to do that.

A Senate committee on Monday rejected a resolution urging Oliver to resign.

The House Rules Committee will not consider a separate resolution calling for a House vote to expel Oliver as a member, said the committee chairman, Republican Rep. Jason White of West.

The expulsion resolution was filed by Democratic Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes, chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus. She said Oliver has not apologized to her.

Democratic Rep. John Hines of Greenville, another black lawmaker who did not receive an apology, said Oliver’s lynching remark was “domestic terrorism.”

“This is the equivalent of saying there is a bomb in a school,” Hines said.

Democratic Rep. Gregory Holloway of Hazlehurst says Oliver sought him out to say he is sorry.

“I mean, I have to accept it,” Holloway said. “I cannot judge what’s in his heart. Only God can do that.”