Call for resignation of Rep. Oliver rejected in Senate

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Mississippi Senate

Sen. Derrick Simmons, D-Greenville

The Senate Rules Committee chairman declined to take up a resolution Monday that called for the resignation of Rep. Karl Oliver, who wrote in a Facebook post last month that those removing Confederate monuments “should be lynched.”

The resolution, which was first filed in the Senate by Sen. Derrick Simmons, D-Greenville, called for the resignation of Oliver.

In the House, Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes, D-Gulfport, filed a resolution Monday for Oliver’s expulsion from the Legislature.

The resolution by the chairperson of the Black Legislative Caucus was expected to be addressed when the House returned later in the afternoon to take up Senate appropriation bills.

The resolution calls for a two-thirds “vote to permanently expel Representative Karl Oliver from the Mississippi House of Representatives due to the incendiary and racially offensive public statements he made regarding “lynching” of “leadership” responsible for removal of Confederate statues in New Orleans.”

The resolution cites a section of the Mississippi constitution that states the House and Senate can punish members for “disorderly behavior,” and expel a member with a two-thirds vote.

Resolutions typically flow through the regular committee process. Simmons’ resolution was sent to the Senate Rules committee Monday morning.

Gil Ford Photography

Sen. Terry Burton, R-Newton

Sen. Terry Burton, R-Newton, the Rules chairman, said his committee would not consider the resolution, effectively killing the item.

Burton also is the Senate President Pro Tempore, the highest ranking senator as voted by his colleagues. He has served in the Legislature since 1992.

It was not immediately clear why Burton declined to have his committee consider the resolution.

“(Rep. Oliver’s words) were certainly unacceptable,” Simmons said. “They put national attention on the state of Mississippi — attention, as you all know, that we do not need.”

“I’ve been here six years, and I’ve never had anyone, as a member of this esteemed institution, to use the words that were used by Karl Oliver,” Simmons said.

Mississippi House

Rep. Karl Oliver, R-Winona

In a Facebook post in May, Oliver wrote: “The destruction of these monuments, erected in the loving memory of our family and fellow Southern Americans, is both heinous and horrific. If the, and I use this term extremely loosely, “leadership” of Louisiana wishes to, in a Nazi-ish fashion, burn books or destroy historical monuments of OUR HISTORY, they should be LYNCHED! Let it be known, I will do all in my power to prevent this from happening in our State.”

The comment was immediately met with bipartisan condemnation. Oliver issued an apology two days after writing the post, saying “I deeply regret that I chose this word.”

House Speaker Philip Gunn revoked Oliver’s vice chairmanship of the House Forestry committee.

“They do not reflect the views of the Republican party, the leadership of the House of Representatives or the House as a whole,” Gunn said in a statement hours after the post garnered national attention. “Using the word ‘lynched’ is inappropriate and offensive.”

Oliver said Monday that he had no comment in response to Simmons’ resolution.

Democratic leaders issued a stern statement after the post, but until Monday, no leader in either party had called for Oliver’s resignation.