As the GOP fights to drag the U.S. back into the Jim Crow era, Tennessee state representative Paul Sherrell kicked it up a notch by spinning the block on lynching.

Tennessee State Capitol

Source: Ray Tan / Getty

Systematically attacking Black Americans voting rights was just the beginning. Next on the docket for rancid racists is legalizing one of the Klan’s most notorious tools of domestic terror. In an extra sadistic twist, Sherrell advocated for the return of lynching on Tuesday, the last day of Black History Month. Legislators on the Criminal Justice Committee met Tuesday to discuss which barbaric execution methods to revive under state law. The Tennessean reports Sherrell backpedaled on his proposed amendment to bring back “hanging by tree.”

For Republicans Who Considered Lynching When Firing Squads Aren’t Enough

Since pharmaceutical companies objected to using their products for death row executions, the prison industrial complex sought alternatives to lethal injections. Tennessee lawmakers deliberated about HB 1245, a bill allowing prisons to execute inmates by firing squad. Sherrell raised the racist bar with an additional proposal.

“I think it’s a very good idea, and I was just wondering if I could put an amendment on that would include hanging by a tree also?” he said.

Rep. Paul Sherrell Apologizes After Laughing Off Lynching Proposal

The klan-tastic comments sparked immediate outrage, invoking a blood-soaked legacy that plagued TN and the rest of the U.S. The hard-fought battle to finally outlaw lynching didn’t even succeed until 2022 with the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act. When The Tennessee Holler confronted the repugnant Republican the next day, he laughed off his comments.

The giddy good ol’ boy giggled and grinned from ear to ear in response to, “You know lynching is a hate crime, right?”

“He is celebrating a particular form of execution used against African Americans in Tennessee and across the nation, including innocent and wrongfully convicted persons. In many parts of the South, lynchings took place in nearly every county as it exemplified racialized and anti-Black violence. We know from numerous research studies that Blacks are also disproportionately executed, especially when the alleged victim is white,” said Tennessee State Conference President of the NAACP Gloria Sweet-Love.

“It is a sad day in Tennessee politics when a lawmaker publicly announces that he wants to resurrect the lynching tree. We demand an apology from Representative Sherrell and ask the House leadership to condemn statements advocating racialized violence.”

After clips of the committee meeting went viral, he eventually apologized. Like most racists and their begrudging apologies, he only seems sorry that he got caught, not that he said and believed in it.

“I regret that I used very poor judgment in voicing my support of a colleague’s bill in the Criminal Justice Committee on Tuesday. My exaggerated comments were intended to convey my belief that for the cruelest and most heinous crimes, a just society requires the death penalty in kind. Although a victim’s family cannot be restored when an execution is carried out, a lesser punishment undermines the value we place on protecting life. My intention was to express my support of families who often wait decades for justice. I sincerely apologize to anyone who may have been hurt or offended.

If the proposed lynching demonstrates taking violent crime seriously, it speaks to how much they (don’t) care about countless Black victims of white supremacists. No wonder Memphis cops who beat Tyre Nichols expected to get away with his murder. When these racists show us who they are, believe them and vote them out of power.

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