Moral Low Ground


Alabama Rep. Joe Mitchell, Black Democrat, Sends Racist Email to Pro-Gun White Citizen

Rep. Joe Mitchell

A black Alabama state lawmaker has raised eyebrows and ire after reportedly sending a racist email to a white citizen who asked him and his colleagues to refrain from introducing gun control legislation.

Alabama Live reports that State Rep. Joe Mitchell, a Democrat representing Mobile, was responding to a polite email sent to lawmakers by Eddie Maxwell, a concerned citizen from Jefferson County who is worried about potential gun control legislation that might violate state law. Maxwell wrote:

Can the officers of our state government change our constitution when the change is forbidden by the people? The Supreme Court of Alabama has ruled that it cannot in an opinion dealing with another matter where change is forbidden. You have sworn to support our constitution. You have defined a violation of an oath of office in an official proceeding as a class C felony (C.O.A. Section 13A1-10-101 perjury in the first degree). Do not violate your oath of office by introducing additional gun control bills or by allowing those already enacted to remain in the body of our laws.

To which Rep. Mitchell replied, in part:

Hey man. Your folk never used all this sheit (sic) to protect my folk from your slave-holding, murdering, adulterous, baby-raping, incestuous, snaggle-toothed, backward-a**ed, inbreed (sic), imported criminal-minded kin folk.

Maxwell, a retired coal miner, then sent this email to all state lawmakers:

That’s not the type of reply I expected to receive from a state legislator. The lack of response to your racist comments from your fellow members speaks volumes about the state of our legislature as a whole.

I’m not a racist and I find your reply to be especially offensive, especially considering the office you hold.

My parents and grandparents taught me to love God and my fellow man as myself. My father was threatened by members of his church back in 1954 for inviting a black family to attend a church he pastored.

My father-in-law was threatened when he hired a young negro man to work in his shop back in 1968 in a community where several neighbors were members of the Ku Klux Klan. He didn’t allow those threats to keep him from treating people of all races equally…

I love my country and my state, and I vowed to support and defend our constitutions. I expect you and all of our representatives to do the same.

At least one of Mitchell’s fellow Democrats emailed Maxwell to tell him she regretted her colleague’s comments. Rep. Patricia Todd of Birmingham, who is white, wrote that “this member hears you loud and clear.”

“I just received this chain of emails and wanted to let you know that I am with you on the gun issue and am saddened by the tone of my colleague’s email,” Todd wrote. “All of us have suffered from the racism of the past and I thank you for your civic and thoughtful response,” she added.

Maxwell told Alabama Live that he hopes Mitchell is disciplined for his racist missive.

“I think he needs to be called in to face his actions. I think he needs at least to be questioned about it.”

Mitchell told the Associated Press that he was merely trying to explain how black Alabamians, who as descendants of slaves and Jim Crow have been legally or constitutionally disenfranchised for the vast majority of the 300 years they’ve existed in Alabama, have a different take on history and the constitution than do the state’s white citizens.

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) told the AP that while he doesn’t agree with what Mitchell wrote, the lawmaker was perfectly within his free speech rights to do so.

“There is nothing in our rules that prevents someone from sending an email that has his personal opinions in it,” Hubbard said.

House Democratic leader Craig Ford of Gadsden, who like other Democratic lawmakers distanced himself from Mitchell’s comments, told the AP that “Joseph Mitchell does not speak for Democrats or anyone else other than himself.”

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