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House Republican Denounced by African American Lawmakers During Special Session
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Rep. John Hines, (D) Washington Co., Reacting to Oliver's Comments
Desare Frazier

Racially charged comments by a Mississippi lawmaker drew criticism and calls for his expulsion during the special legislative session. 

African Americans in the Mississippi House of Representatives spent more than an hour and a half at the end of the special session denouncing comments made by Republican Karl Oliver of Winona. In May, Oliver posted on his Facebook page Louisiana leaders should be lynched for removing confederate monuments. House Democrat Oscar Denton of Vicksburg.

"To say that I am disgusted is putting it mildly. To say that I'm hurt is putting it mildly. Does the gentleman owe this body an apology? No question about it. None. He's not making no one look bad but us. This body looks bad. This affects the State of Mississippi, said Denton.

Oliver issued an apology several days later, after Republican Speaker of the House Philip Gunn told him to do so.  The speaker also stripped him of his vice chairmanship of the House Forestry Committee. Yesterday, a resolution was introduced to expel Oliver. But, the rules committee didn't take-up the request. House Democrat Adrienne Wooten of Hinds County.  

"Now everybody sitting in this body is grown and I'm of the mindset that the gentleman was fully aware of what he was typing. He may not have thought that somebody that looks like me would read it. I'm sure it was for a particular audience. But it stretched across the line and you can't take it back and so would ask that something be done about what has taken place," said Wooten.

House Democrat Robert Johnson of Natchez, an attorney, talked about the impressions people have of Mississippians. He says comments like Oliver's hurts the state's economic progress.

"The first hurtle we have to do every time we walk in a board room, every time we walk in a courtroom, every time we walk anywhere. The first thing you do you say you're from Mississippi, the first thing you have to do is prove you're not stupid. Can we please get to a point that we understand that the things we do, the face we put on the face of Mississippi does everything that it can to keep us down," said Johnson.

Representative Oliver spent part of the special session apologizing to African American legislators individually. He declined to offer any further comment publicly.