A Republican state legislator in Georgia earlier this week threatened that a former colleague would “go missing” and encounter “something a lot more definitive” than torches if she pursued the removal of Confederate monuments.
And though LaDawn Jones told TPM Wednesday that she didn’t take personally the threats from Rep. Jason Spencer, she said “the fact that I didn’t personally feel threatened shouldn’t undermine the seriousness of it.”
After a back-and-forth in which Jones said she would tear down Confederate monuments of which Spencer had posted photos, the Republican legislator said, “Continue your quixotic journey into South Georgia and it will not be pleasant. The truth. Not a warning. Those folks won’t put up with it like they do in Atlanta. It best you move on.”
Jones told him to “put your hoods and your tiki torches away,” a references to torch-wielding white nationalists who rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia in mid-August, ostensibly to protest the removal of a Confederate monument.
“I can guarantee you won’t be met with torches but something a lot more definitive,” Spencer responded. “People in South Georgia are people of action, not drama.”
He added, responding to another person who said “Some people never get it. Atlanta is NOT Georgia”: “You got that right. They will go missing in Okefenokee. Too many necks that are red around here. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about ‘em.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution posted screenshots of the exchange, which has since been deleted. Spencer did not respond to TPM’s request for comment. Jones is an outspoken advocate for taking down Confederate memorial statues. Spencer stands by them just as fervently.
“We are at the two opposite extremes of politics and ideology as any two people could be,” she told TPM.
Asked if Spencer’s threats were representative of Georgians’ attitude toward the prospect of removing Confederate monuments, Jones said she was more familiar with Atlanta, where she lives.
But she pointed out state Rep. Tommy Benton’s comments in January 2016, that the Ku Klux Klan was “a vigilante thing to keep law and order.”
“Before he retired, Rep. Benton was an eighth grade history teacher for 30 years,” Jones noted.
Jones said she had spoken with Spencer since the Facebook debate in which he threatened her.
“What I got instead was an explanation about, ‘I didn’t mean it as a threat against you. I was just giving you fair warning,’” she said, adding: “The warning should not come to me.”
She also expressed her wish that local and national leaders took the “wound” of racism, represented by Confederate monuments, seriously.
“What I would really love to come about from this is an acknowledgment that we have a wound around racism and centered around these monuments that isn’t healed, and not talking about it won’t make it go away,” she said. “The conversation has started. I would love if the leadership in Georgia and the leadership of the United States of America would take charge of this and hold meaningful discussions, outside of our silos, outside of our segregated churches and neighborhoods, and have a real conversation so that we may not be able to solve all the issues with racism, but we could address some of these things that we keep skirting around because we’re afraid of being offended.”