Trending Topics

GOP Senator Defends Cindy Hyde-Smith, Suggests Public Hangings Would ‘Deter a Lot of Crimes’

A Mississippi state senator came to the defense of embattled U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith on Sunday by suggesting public hangings could be a deterrent for crime.

State Sen. Charles Younger (R-Columbus) made the remarks during a rally for Hyde-Smith, during which he argued that public hangings were just a “style” of execution that had little to do with race, according to Mississippi Today. Speaking to voters, Younger remarked that if public hangings were back again, “I think it would deter a lot of crimes.”

Charles Younger

Sen. Charles Younger insisted that Democrats would agree to a public hanging for Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof. (Image courtesy of the Mississippi Senate)

Hyde-Smith, who’s hoping to keep her appointed seat in a special runoff election Tuesday, came under fire earlier this month after she was caught on camera “joking” that she’d be “in the front row” of a public hanging if her one of her supporters invited her to one. The senator brushed aside allegations of racism, however, and accused critics of twisting her words.

Younger then tried to flip the script Sunday by arguing that Democrats upset over Hyde-Smith’s public hanging comments would likely support the death penalty for Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof.

“She said something out of jest that wasn’t the most politically correct thing to say but, you know, I bet you nine out of 10 Democrats would vote to execute the young man that killed the nine Black people in the church in South Carolina — the African-Americans that were killed in South Carolina,” Younger said. “I bet you nine out of 10 Democrats would vote to have him executed any kind of way.”

Roof was sentenced to death last year for murdering the nine parishioners at Mother Emanuel AME Church in 2015.

When asked about the relevance of the mass shooter’s actions to Hyde-Smith’s comments, Younger replied with a defense of public hangings.

“Public hanging was an execution style,” the lawmaker said. “It wasn’t lynching — it was a public hanging where it had to pass through the courts and it wasn’t a color or a race issue. It was just a means of punishment.”

Hyde-Smith is facing off against Black Mississippi Democrat Mike Espy in a special election after neither candidate received 50 percent of the vote on Election Day. Espy, who would become the first African-American senator from Mississippi since 1861 if elected, called his opponent’s comments “reprehensible.”

Hyde-Smith’s remark was particularly worrisome considering Mississippi’s ugly history of lynchings. The Jackson Free Press reported that Mississippi once had the highest number of lynchings of Black Americans of any state between 1877 and 1950, noting how they were often done “in front of crowds of joyous whites who even mailed post card with lynching photographs to friends and family.”

Moreover, 257 people were hanged between 1804 and 1940, 78 percent of whom were African-American men, according to Mississippi Today.

“Yes, [Hyde-Smith] shouldn’t have used that illustration that she used, but I think she’s got a good heart and can work for all the people of Mississippi,” Younger said.

What people are saying

Leave a Reply

Back to top