It’s no secret that politicians and social media blunders are no strangers to each other. The Twitter habits of President Donald Trump not withstanding, that fact was amplified and then some this week after a White Georgia state representative had some ominous words for a Black former state legislator during a heated exchange on social media about confederate statues and monuments.
The episode unfolded after Republican Rep. Jason Spencer told former Democratic Rep. LaDawn Jones on Facebook that advocating for the removal of confederate symbols in Georgia could make her “go missing in the Okefenokee,” a swamp in a rural part of the state. The “threat” was prompted in part by Jones’ response to Spencer’s smiling selfie in front of a Jefferson Davis memorial that he touted as being part of “Georgia’s history,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution first reported Tuesday. The post, which was captured in a screenshot before it was taken down, was accompanied by the defiant hashtag “#DealWithIt.”
Jones, who has been working as an attorney since she left office last year, responded in part by telling Spencer to enjoy the monument “before it is torn down,” sparking the lively exchange that she characterized as “a threat of physical violence… is that what we are doing now?”
When later asked about the Facebook post, Spencer seemed to backtrack a bit and told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that viewpoints on the Confederacy can vary widely in Georgia depending on the location.
“She is from Atlanta – and the rest of Georgia sees this issue very differently,” Spencer said via a text message. “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.”
While the jury is still out on whether Spencer’s post was racist in nature, he also posted a photo of himself standing next to a new statue of Martin Luther King Jr. that was unveiled in Atlanta on Monday. As with the Jefferson Davis memorial, he also called the new statue “Georgia’s history.”
In the wake of the rally of white supremacists and subsequent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this month, efforts have been ramped up across the country to have Confederate statues and monuments razed and removed. But the process to do so is political in nature, which means any progress will likely be slow, lengthy and drawn out.
As such, some folks opposing statues, monuments and memorials that they say signify oppression against minorities have taken matters in their own hands, literally. A statue of Christopher Columbus was found beheaded in the New York City suburb of Yonkers on Tuesday night, according to NBC News. That instance followed counter-protesters in Charlottesville manually pulling down a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
There are more than 700 confederate statues and monuments in the U.S., according to the data-driven news website fivethirtyeight.com.