Grenada-based Attorney Carlos Moore has sued Rep. Karl Oliver, R-Winona, for his call for lynching on Facebook. Two days after the post and under fire, Oliver deleted and apologized for the statement. Photo courtesy Carlos Moore
JACKSON The Grenada, Miss.-based attorney who sued Gov. Phil Bryant over the Confederate flag in the canton of the Mississippi state flag is now targeting Rep. Karl Oliver, R-Winona, whose calls for lynching over removal of Confederate statues last week made national headlines.
Carlos Moore alleges that Oliver, along with Rep. John Read, R-Gautier; Rep. Doug McLeod, R-Lucedale; and Tony Dunn, the public affairs officer for the Mississippi Highway Patrol, all violated the U.S. Constitution by "conspire(ing) to deter, by force, intimidation, or threat any party or witness in any court of the United States from attending such court." Moore alleges that as officers of the state of Mississippi, they violated his right to free speech.
Moore's lawsuit cites two of Oliver's Facebook posts, the first on March 31 after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Moore in his state-flag case. Oliver allegedly wrote on his Facebook page "FLAG DECLARED WINNER A federal appeals court has blocked a Mississippi man's effort to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag."
The lawsuit also references Oliver's now nationally known and condemned post that lashed out at Louisiana leaders who brought down Confederate monuments in New Orleans last week. Oliver wrote that if the leaders in Louisiana wish to "burn books or destroy historical monument 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."
In fact, the statues are not being destroyed; they will likely end up in a museum or other historic institution.
Read and McLeod "liked" the post on Facebook. Moore alleges that Dunn liked it as well. About 48 hours later, Oliver had removed the post from Facebook and issued an apology saying he "deeply regretted" using that word. Still, House Speaker Philip Gun, R-Clinton, stripped Oliver of his vice-chairmanship. Virtually every major newspaper in the state as well as some national organizations and papers have called for his resignation, although Republican officials in Mississippi have stopped short of saying he should leave office. Oliver did not return messages left at the funeral home he directs this morning. It appears that Oliver now has deleted his Facebook account altogether.
The ACLU of Mississippi has called for an investigation into Oliver's statement and if it violates any legislative rules of codes of ethics. Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus and the Mississippi NAACP have called for Oliver to resign.
"Anyone who champions a fond remembrance of such a violent, racist history is unworthy of elected office. Karl Oliver must step down as he cannot in good faith represent all of the citizens of Mississippi," Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a press release.
Oliver's posts were "intended to communicate a death threat to anyone in Mississippi who might take action to lawfully secure the removal of government-sponsored Confederate monuments ... including the Mississippi state flag," Moore's complaint says.
Moore, who is black, asks the federal judge for an injunction against all defendants prohibiting them from further threatening him, an order asking for a U.S. attorney to investigate whether defendants have committed any federal crimes as well as an order asking Attorney General Jim Hood to investigated whether defendants violated state law. Moore has also asked that the judge require the defendants to read "The Blood of Emmett Till" by Timothy Tyson and "At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America" by Phillip Dray.
In his complaint, Moore states that he is planning to appeal his state-flag case to the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming week.
Correction: A previous version of this story said the ACLU of Mississippi had called on Rep. Oliver to resign. They have called for an investigation into Oliver's comments but not called on him to resign. We apologize for the error or any confusion. Email state reporter Arielle Dreher at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @arielle_amara.