A Republican member of the Georgia legislature issued a veiled, yet threatening warning to a former colleague who criticized his support of Civil War monuments in a heated Facebook exchange over the weekend.
Georgia State Rep. Jason Spencer (R) warned former state Rep. LaDawn Jones (D) that she wouldn’t be “met with torches, but something a lot more definitive” if she continued calling for the removal of statues in South Georgia, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Spencer also told Jones, who is African-American, that “people in South Georgia are people of action, not drama,” adding that those who fail to understand that “will go missing in the Okefenokee [Swamp].”
The debate was sparked after Spencer posted a photo of himself posing with a Confederate statue at the Jefferson Davis Memorial site, writing, “This is Georgia history. #DealWithIt.” Jones, who served on the state legislature from 2012-2016, questioned whether state tax dollars would be used to maintain the memorial, which includes the house Davis fled to to hide from the Union after the Civil War had ended.
“Take a photo – you won’t be in the legislature forever,” Jones wrote, adding the hashtags #FlagGone, #ConfederateStatuesLEAVING and #HateDONE. “Hold on to your family Bibles because progress is not on your side.”
That’s when Spencer began alluding to threatening situations.
“Continue your quixotic journey into South Georgia and it will not be pleasant,” Spencer replied. “The truth. Not a warning. Those folks won’t put up with it like they do in Atlanta.”
“Too many necks they are red around here,” he added, referencing the differences between Atlanta, which has large Black population, and the rest of Georgia. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you about ’em.”
Jones clapped back with equal intensity, blasting the lawmaker for making hollow threats of physical violence.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures, huh?” she wrote. “Afraid of what is going to happen in [South] GA? I saw those white supremacists crying when sh*t really hit the fan.”
Despite his concerning comments, Spencer insisted they weren’t meant as a threat to Jones.
“She’s from Atlanta, and the rest of Georgia sees this issue very differently,” Spencer told the AJC via 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.”
The lawmaker, who represents the southeast Georgia district, asked the paper to include a photo of him standing beside the Martin Luther King Jr. statue that was unveiled in Atlanta on Monday, Aug. 28.
In an interview, Jones told the AJC she sat next to Spencer for four years in the Georgia House of Representatives where they formed a friendly, though sometimes testy, relationship. Still, she said she was “concerned” by his reaction to her comment.
“If that’s representative of what people in South Georgia think, then yikes,” she said.
Read their exchange here.
*** UPDATE ***
Rep. Jason Spencer issued the following statement Wednesday, Aug. 30, in response to the social media exchange between him and former Rep. LaDawn Jones.
“I regret that my choice of words in warning LaDawn about the possibility of violence has been misinterpreted as a threat against her, or anyone else who would like to see historic monuments to the Confederacy removed. I was trying to warn her that there really are people who would harm others over the issue. In light of the recent tragic murder of a woman in Charlottesville, I believe that a certain degree of caution is necessary. I still do.”