Espy calls public hanging comments 'harmful'

Democratic candidate for US Senate in Mississippi Mike Espy says comments by his opponent Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) about public hanging are tone deaf.

Posted: Nov 12, 2018 5:26 PM
Updated: Nov 12, 2018 5:55 PM

Mississippi Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith joked about going "front row" to a "public hanging" in a video posted to Twitter on Sunday morning, prompting her African-American opponent to call her comment "reprehensible."

"If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row," the senator is heard saying in the video.

Hyde-Smith faces former Democratic Rep. Mike Espy in a runoff election on November 27 for the Mississippi Senate seat. The runoff election was triggered when neither she nor Espy received more than 50% of the vote total on November 6.

Hyde-Smith was appointed in April to fill the seat vacated by longtime Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, who stepped down due to health reasons. She became the first female senator to represent the state.

Espy said on CNN's "New Day" Monday morning that the comments were "disappointing" and reflected poorly on the state.

"They are hurtful to millions of Mississippians who are people of goodwill," Espy said. "And they're harmful because they tend to reinforce the stereotypes that have held back our state for so long and that have cost us jobs and harmed our economy."

In the video, Hyde-Smith appeared to be speaking during a campaign event about the support of a Mississippi rancher.

The line drew applause and laughter from the crowd. The short video clip was met with immediate backlash online and had more than 2 million page views as of late Sunday night.

Hyde-Smith issued a statement on Sunday after the video posted, saying, "In a comment on Nov. 2, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement. In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous."

In a statement posted to Twitter on Sunday, Espy, who would become the first black senator to represent Mississippi since the Reconstruction era if he wins, called the comments "reprehensible."

He wrote, "They have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country. We need leaders, not dividers, and her words show that she lacks the understanding and judgment to represent the people of our state."

In his CNN interview Monday morning, he said Hyde-Smith's response was "tone deaf," but when asked if the remark itself was racist or had racial connotations, Espy demurred and instead presented himself as a unifying candidate.

"My campaign is the campaign that tries to reach across the racial chasm, reach across the party chasm and bring us together," Espy said.

Mississippi had the highest number of lynchings in the nation between 1882 and 1968, according to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

"Hyde-Smith's decision to joke about 'hanging' when the history of African Americans is marred by countless incidents of this barbarous act, is sick," NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement Sunday, according to The Washington Post. "Any politician seeking to serve as a national voice of the people of Mississippi should know better."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 96677

Reported Deaths: 2911
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7143160
DeSoto559460
Harrison388374
Jackson350570
Madison331089
Rankin330679
Lee273670
Forrest248973
Jones248779
Washington225977
Lafayette219139
Lauderdale2059125
Bolivar184566
Oktibbeha179952
Lamar171635
Lowndes158058
Neshoba1579104
Panola149930
Sunflower147146
Leflore141081
Warren140750
Pontotoc127816
Pike124051
Monroe123568
Copiah119133
Scott117627
Coahoma116329
Marshall110617
Lincoln110253
Holmes109859
Grenada109036
Yazoo106230
Simpson104646
Tate100437
Union99824
Leake96038
Adams94137
Wayne90421
Pearl River89253
Marion86535
Prentiss86217
Covington82722
Itawamba82621
Alcorn82011
George78013
Tallahatchie77321
Newton77224
Winston74219
Tishomingo69038
Chickasaw68424
Tippah67117
Attala66725
Walthall60126
Clarke60046
Clay59518
Hancock58722
Jasper57515
Noxubee55116
Smith53415
Calhoun52112
Tunica49715
Claiborne46516
Montgomery46420
Yalobusha43514
Lawrence43313
Perry42419
Greene38817
Humphreys37715
Quitman3775
Stone37412
Jefferson Davis34211
Webster33813
Amite33210
Carroll31912
Wilkinson30518
Kemper29015
Sharkey26613
Jefferson2439
Benton2273
Franklin1933
Choctaw1866
Issaquena1053
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 134231

Reported Deaths: 2357
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19676351
Mobile13373292
Montgomery8834184
Tuscaloosa8621118
Madison788178
Shelby597849
Lee589760
Baldwin547750
Marshall394343
Calhoun351544
Etowah349045
Morgan329228
Houston290321
Elmore266748
DeKalb241621
St. Clair232235
Walker231684
Talladega216629
Limestone210120
Cullman189920
Dallas179026
Franklin177129
Autauga176425
Russell17603
Lauderdale171333
Colbert164626
Blount161115
Escambia160824
Chilton158530
Jackson157511
Covington140127
Dale138644
Coffee13486
Pike119810
Chambers116442
Tallapoosa116085
Clarke109116
Marion96429
Butler91239
Barbour8827
Winston74412
Marengo72020
Pickens66214
Bibb65410
Lowndes65327
Randolph64713
Hale63528
Geneva6254
Lawrence62023
Cherokee60813
Bullock60414
Monroe5898
Clay5858
Washington55713
Perry5416
Crenshaw53732
Conecuh53511
Wilcox53111
Henry5055
Macon48018
Fayette4578
Sumter43819
Cleburne3805
Lamar3672
Choctaw34712
Greene30315
Coosa1713
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Broken Clouds
80° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 83°
Columbus
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 82°
Oxford
Broken Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 75°
Starkville
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 79°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather