‘Get the Hemp Ropes’: Alabama Newspaper Publisher Wants the KKK to ‘Clean Out D.C.’

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The publisher of a small-town Alabama newspaper thinks it’s high time for the Ku Klux Klan “to night ride again.”

Howard “Goodloe” Sutton, publisher of The Democrat-Reporter newspaper in Linden, Ala., ran a Feb. 14 editorial calling for the return of the infamous white supremacist hate group to “clean out DC” and take down “Democrats in the Republican party and Democrats [who] are plotting to raise taxes in Alabama.”

Goodloe Sutton
In his op-ed, Goodloe Sutton railed against Democrats and “Democrats in the Republican Party” who he accused of trying to raise taxes in Alabama. (Photo by Alvin Benn / The Montgomery Advertiser)

Sutton later confirmed to larger newspaper the Montgomery Advertiser that he’d authored the controversial op-ed.

“If we could get the Klan to go up there and clean out D.C., we’d all been better off,” he told the newspaper on Monday.

When asked what he meant by “cleaning out D.C.,” the newspaper said Sutton suggested lynching.

“We’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them,” he added.

In his op-ed, Sutton railed against Democrats and “Democrats in the Republican party” who “don’t understand the Constitution” or how to cut expenses when funds are needed in other areas. He also contended “this socialist-communist ideology sounds good to the ignorant … the uneducated and the simple-minded people.”

Asked if he felt it was appropriate for a newspaper publisher to be advocating for the lynchings of fellow Americans, Sutton responded, “It’s not calling for the lynchings of Americans. These are socialist–communists we are talking about. Do you know what socialism and communism is?”

Sutton, who inherited the family-owned paper from his father, has been running the weekly publication since 1964, which he used to do jointly his late wife, Jean. As reported by AL. com, the Suttons gained national acclaim and were recognized with a number of journalism awards in the 1990s for their coverage of corruption inside the Marengo County Sheriff’s Department, which later led to the conviction of a local sheriff.

By 2015, the newspaper had about 3,000 subscribers.

Sutton refused to recognize the KKK as a racist, violent organization and compared the hate group to the NAACP, telling the Advertiser “they didn’t kill but a few people.”

Goodloe Sutton Op-Ed
Image courtesy of The Montgomery Advertiser.

His editorial also featured this tidbit: “Slaves, just freed after the Civil War, were not stupid. At times, they borrowed their former masters’ robes and horses and rode through the night to frighten some evil doer. Sometimes they had to kill one or two of them, but so what.”

Chip Brownlee and Mikayla Burns, both editors for student newspaper The Auburn Plainsman, first spotted Sutton’s editorial (which is only available in print) and shared it online Monday. Brownlee called its content “disturbing.”

“All newspapers should be held to the highest ethical and moral standards,” he told the Montogmery Advertiser in an email. “Editorials should be about new ideas, constructive criticism and opinion backed up by facts. To call for the return of domestic terrorism — no matter its form — is counterproductive and wrong. It’s important to welcome and encourage differing opinions, but violence is never right.”

Sutton seems unfazed by the backlash, however, and welcomed people to call him, send him a letter — or boycott him altogether.

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