When people are literally being killed by White supremacists, Rep. Jason Spencer thought it would be a good idea to say this.
A White Georgia lawmaker is under fire after telling a Black attorney that she could "go missing" if she continued to support the removal of Confederate monuments in the South.
Rep. Jason Spencer posted the comments on Facebook during a discussion about Civil War symbols with former colleague LaDawn Jones, who previously served as a Georgia Democratic representative from 2012-2016. The debate started off quiet enough — Jones told the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the two "developed a friendly, if sometimes testy, relationship" and often debated respectfully — before taking a dark turn.
“Continue your quixotic journey into South Georgia and it will not be pleasant,” Spencer wrote under a photograph of the Jefferson Davis monument. “The truth. Not a warning. Those folks won’t put up with it like they do in Atlanta. It best you move on.”
He continued: "I can guarantee you won’t be met with torches but something a lot more definitive." At one point he warned Jones that the people of South Georgia were "people of action."
“They will go missing in the Okefenokee [swamp],” he said of those protesting Confederate monuments. “Too many necks they are red around here. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about ’em."
In a statement sent via text, Spencer told the AJC that he didn't intend to send a threat, but wanted to give Jones a warning.
“She is from Atlanta – and the rest of Georgia sees this issue very differently,” he said. "Just trying to keep her safe if she decided to come down and raise hell about the memorial in the back yards of folks who will see this as an unwelcome aggression from the left.”
Spencer's statements have no doubt come under fire — in the wake of the Charlottesville riots where one person died and others beaten by White supremacists, violence steeped in racism is a reality this country has always faced. And telling a Black women she might go missing for simply disagreeing with state-sponsored Confederate symbols highlights just how desperate those who uphold White supremacy want to hold on to their past and their privilege at the cost of others.
Though Jones, who sat by Spencer for four years as a Representative, initially saw his remarks as a "threat of physical violence," she told AJC that she was not alarmed since the comments came from him.
“If it were anybody other than Jason Spencer, then I would be alarmed," she said. "But we had a unique relationship in the Georgia Legislature. If that had come from anybody else, I’d take it as a serious threat.”
She is, however, still concerned that Spencer would venture to express violence.
“Would it embolden white supremacists?," she asked the Huffington Post. "How would it make black Georgians feel? There is still a level of comfort with this type of thinking.”
You can read the now-deleted conversation here.