JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The House Ethics Committee met on Monday to investigate a Facebook post made by Rep. Warren Love that hoped that the vandals who defaced a Confederate statue to be “found & hung from a tall tree with a long rope.” The bipartisan panel met after House Minority leader Gail McCann Beatty filed a remonstrance in the veto session in September.
The Ethics Committee voted unanimously to advance the matter to a preliminary hearing but did not set a date. They also voted a half an hour before to close their meeting to the public under to House Resolution 74. Rep. Gina Mitten told the Post-Dispatch that the preliminary hearing would take place sometime in October or early November. Love reportedly did not attend the hearing.
In a letter House Minority leader Beatty wrote to Love, she said that he “forfeited the right to hold elected office,” and reportedly testified during the meeting.
— Brian Hauswirth (@Brianontheair) October 16, 2017
Rep. Love wrote on Facebook in August after a number of cities and towns have removed statues that honor generals and commanders from the Confederate Army. Most notably, the KKK, white supremacists, and neo-fascist Nazis protested in Charlottesville and caused the death of Heather Heyer. After a statement from the President – which was nationally condemned – many came to the President’s defense as well as advocates for keeping Civil War monuments.
The president came to Springfield weeks later to talk about his tax plan when vandals defaced a confederate monument in the National Veterans Cemetery. On Facebook, he shared an article from KY3 News hoping the vandals are “found & hung from a tall tree with a long rope.”
His imagery resembles Jim Crowe era lynchings, a form of racial terrorism which killed nearly 5,000 known people in America between 1882 and 1968. Missouri specifically had the second highest number of lynchings in non-Southern states, with 60 recorded killings between 1877 and 1950, according to the Equal Justice Initiative.
Soon after his comments were condemned, Love issued an apology, saying that he is “deeply sorry for the extremely poor choice of words I used to convey my frustration with the act of vandalism that took place at the Springfield National Cemetery,” and told the Post-Dispatch that he was not calling for the vandals to be lynched, he said it was “[an] old Cowboy Statement that is a Western custom for Thieves that steal Cattle and Horses.”
He then clarified to the Post-Dispatch that the detail that it was a Confederate monument which was defaced did not motivate him to write the post. He said that “it is disturbing when you see objects of remembrance — and they can be anything from memorials to tombstones to, you know, somebody putting a cross on the highway and planting flowers on it — that somebody would be a low-life enough to desecrate it or vandalize it.”
He reportedly added, “I would’ve done that — right across the sidewalk from that monument is a monument of General Nathaniel Lyon,” Love commented about the general of the Union Army. “I’d of done the same statement if it’d been him in a national cemetery.”
At the time, many Missouri lawmakers – including the Governor – asked for Love and Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, who made an inflammatory statement on Facebook to have the “same consequences”
Leaders in MO need to do better & I don’t think the Sen or Rep should be representing the people of MO; both should face same consequences.
— Eric Greitens (@EricGreitens) August 31, 2017
Chappelle-Nadal was formally censured while Love’s fate remains to be determined.
Michael Layer is a reporter for the Missouri Times and the Missouri Times Magazine. He joined the Missouri Times in August 2017 after graduating from Goucher College the previous May. To contact Michael, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @_MichaelLayer