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State Rep. offers no apologies for 'racial' emails (updated)

By Gabriel Tynes

Issue#
MARCH 27, 2013

 

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State Rep. Joseph Mitchell (D-Mobile) won’t apologize for two racially charged emails he recently sent to an Alabamian who was prodding state legislators to support less restrictive gun rights. Eddie Maxwell, a retired coal miner living in Jefferson County, wrote to at least 30 members of the legislature at 10:54 p.m. Jan. 27 calling for them to "not violate your oath of office by introducing additional gun control bills or by allowing those already enacted to remain in the body of our laws,” citing the U.S. Constitution and various case law.


One hour and five minutes later, Rep. Mitchell shot back a response:


"Your folk never used all this sheit (sic) to protect my folk from your slave-holding, murdering, adulterous, baby-raping, incestuous, snaggle-toothed, backward-a**ed, inbreed, imported criminal-minded kin folk. You can keep sending me stuff like you have however because it helps me explain to my constituents why they should protect that 2nd amendment thing AFTER we finish stocking up on spare parts, munitions and the like.


Bring it.  As one of my friends in the Alabama Senate suggested – "BRING IT!!!!”


In a conversation with Lagniappe, Mitchell today downplayed his response as "racial, not racist,” saying the distinction lies in the fact that he was talking about a group of people in the past and that he has always been bothered by the "white and privileged” interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.


"If somebody got irked that’s on them,” Mitchell said. "What I was saying is if my kin folk 400 years ago had guns, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I’m in favor of guns and encourage everyone I know to have them because the last time we didn’t have them we were abused.”


Maxwell, an Alabama native and descendant of at least two generations of Christian pastors, said Mitchell’s response — the only one he received from any of the legislators he copied on the email — was surprising.


"I was surprised that a member of the legislature would use that language and I was a little bit offended by it,” he said today.


Nearly two weeks later, on Feb. 11, Maxwell wrote back to Mitchell, citing his own life experiences and denying being a racist, while also calling the Representative’s accusation "especially offensive considering the position you hold.”


On Feb. 15 Rep. Mitchell again responded from his legislative email account, suggesting Maxwell couldn’t possibly have any transformative civil rights insight because he wasn’t black. He ended his response this way:


It is unlikely that I, through sharing my many experiences on the receiving end, will convince you of your errors. For that matter, you will never convince me that our discomforts were comparable. Let the next generations resolve this continuing story.


Lock and load.


"I’ve got a religious background,” Maxwell said later. "I’m the son of a minister and grandson of a minister and I think even a great grandson — I’ve been taught all my life not to hate because of not only skin color but people’s different beliefs, and I’ve always been tolerant of all that.”


Mitchell, who was first elected to the state house 1994, has not voted on any key legislation since May 2012, according to Project Vote Smart. His biography states he "represents one of the most culturally diverse districts in Mobile distinguished by the inclusion of ‘Maysville’ and ‘Down the Bay’ — two of the oldest African-American residential communities in the area.”


In an exhaustive interview after the emails were published by a state political blog, Mitchell railed against a state legislative process he said he was once naive enough to have faith in, only to watch it steadily worsen since 2008. He said his inability to be at the current legislative session was because his 1994 Ford Bronco needs to be outfitted with a lift for a motorized wheelchair, which is necessary for when he gets "winded.”


"Anything that I have said that was taken as racist is a misconception,” he said. "My intention when talking about the Constitution and the Second Amendment, the Constitution was formulated before black people were people and it has never served them well. No, the Constitution doesn’t need amendments, but only certain people are allowed the advantages of it. One cannot be racist if one does not have the power to be racist and only the society as a whole has the power and only the Constitution provides that power.”


Meanwhile, Maxwell thinks he and the people of Alabama are owed an apology.


"I think an apology would probably be good for the people that have heard about this,” he said. "I would like to understand what’s motivating Rep. Mitchell. I’ve been pretty vocal on some things in my lifetime and sometimes people misunderstood the way I present myself, but if they got underneath the superficial things and spoke with me about the matters as I understand them I think we could reach an understanding.


"Perhaps there are things that are bothering [Mitchell] and maybe people aren’t listening to him like they should,” Maxwell continued. "If I can sit and talk to him we might be able to understand his remarks and come to a solution. I hate injustice as much as anyone and if I can help right wrongs I will. If Rep. Mitchell had something happen to him that’s so wrong we need to listen.”


Mitchell said everyday in the hallway leading to his legislative office he walks past portraits of former legislators — white slave owners whose descendants continue to hold positions of wealth and power. If anyone was waiting for an apology he said, they can keep waiting.


"If I put myself in their place I can see the context, but how many times has anyone put themselves in my place?” he asked. "I don’t have an apology, I just ask [Maxwell] to come up and look at the wall I have to face everyday and know that everybody on that wall had slaves and benefitted from it.”


Updated at 5 p.m. March 27 to include comments from Rep. Joseph Mitchell.







 
Rommie says:

APRIL 28, 2013
11:19 AM
  http://blog.al.com/wire/2013/03/post_44.html



@ Laddie you wanted a copy of the Email that began Joe Mitchell s Racist Rant? Here it is, and believe me, there was no reason for Mr. Mitchell to go off all Racist like he did. Here are copies of the emails, as provided to AL.com:

From: Eddie Maxwell

Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2013 10:54 PM

To: (all members of state legislature)

Subject: Gun Control and our Constitutions

Can the officers of our state government change our constitution when the change is forbidden by the people? The Supreme Court of Alabama has ruled that it cannot in an opinion dealing with another matter where change is forbidden. You have sworn to support our constitution. You have defined a violation of an oath in an official proceeding as a class C felony (C.O.A. Section 13A-10-101 Perjury in the first degree).

Do not violate your oath of office by introducing additional gun control bills or by allowing those already enacted to remain in the body of our laws.

From: Representative Joseph Mitchell

Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2013 11:59 PM

To: Eddie Maxwell

cc: (all members)

Subject: Re: Gun Control and our Constitutions

Hey man. You have used the word ‘except’ when I think you mean somethin’ else.

Hey man. Your folk never used all this sheit to protect my folk from your slave-holding, murdering, adulterous, baby-raping, incestuous, snaggle-toothed, backward-a**ed, inbreed, imported criminal-minded kin folk. You can keep sending me stuff like you have however because it helps me explain to my constituents why they should protect that 2nd amendment thing AFTER we finish stocking up on spare parts, munitions and the like.

Bring it. As one of my friends in the Alabama Senate suggested – “BRING IT!!!!”

JOSEPHm, a prepper (’70-’13)

Mobile County

From: Eddie Maxwell

Sent: Monday, February 11, 2013 2:23 PM

To: Representative Joseph Mitchell

cc: (all members)

Subject: Re: Gun Control and our Constitutions

Rep. Mitchell and other members of the Legislature of Alabama,

That’s not the type of reply I expect to receive from a state legislator. The lack of response to your racist comments from your fellow members speaks volumes about the state of our legislature as a whole.

I’m not a racist and I find your reply to be especially offensive considering the position you hold.

My parents and grandparents taught me to love God and my fellow man as myself. My father was threatened by members of his church back in 1954 for inviting a black family to attend the church he pastored.

My father-in-law was threatened when he hired a young negro man to work in his shop back in 1968 in a community where several neighbors were members of the Ku Klux Klan. He didn’t allow those threats to keep him from treating people of all races equally.

In 1969, I was a draftee in the US Army and bunked with a young negro man named Earl Shinholster at Fort Benning. Earl later became a prominent leader of the NAACP back home in Georgia after serving with me in the Army. When I received numerous racist threats from negroes who knew I lived near Birmingham, Earl warned me of the knives they carried and cautioned me to be more careful around them. Earl had been watching me and he had come to know and respect me for my Christian values. Earl and I became friends and he helped me get through some tough times there.

Racism is not exclusive to my own people. I learned that before 1955. It is just as ugly now as it was then, regardless of the race of the person who is consumed by it.

I love my country and my state, and I vowed to support and defend our constitutions. I expect you and all of our representative to do the same.

Sincerely,

Eddie Maxwell

From: Patricia Todd

Sent: Monday, February 11, 2013 4:41 PM

To: Eddie Maxwell

Cc: (all members)

Subject: Re: Gun Control and our Constitutions

Mr. Maxwell:

I am Patricia Todd, a member of the house. I just received this chain of emails and wanted to let you know that I am with you on the gun issue and am saddened by the tone of my colleagues email. All of us have suffered from the racism of the past and I thank you for your civic and thoughtful response.

We all have different life experience that shapes our values. I pray that we can all respect, and, celebrate, our differences. That is what make America the greatest country on earth, scars and all.

This member hears you loud and clear.

From: Representative Joseph Mitchell

Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 5:09 PM

To: Eddie Maxwell

cc: (all members)

Subject: Re: Gun Control and our Constitutions

Eddie. I grew up in Albany Ga. I was a military brat for most of my youth. Air Jump Master and DI USMC. Because I preference my issues with the values that I learned in ‘the heat of battle’ during the mid-fifties through the ‘70’s and into today might tell you what and who I am. I find no need to define it or explain it to you because you can identify with the threats of reprisals against your folk for helping somebody of African Descent. I know ol’ Ft. Benning and Columbus like the palm of my hand.

Where were you during the Albany Movement? Oh…. You shoulda been there. I am certain that your experiences through how your kin folk ‘helped’ colored folk would have helped us a lot when we were bombed in Albany, Leesburg, Newton and Sylvester.

I apologize for the restless nights your folk endured out of fear of the Klan. At least as they stood on the sidewalk watching my cousins and me get beat up by some of your neighbors they were able to push you out into the street to physically intervene. They did do that didn’t they? Oh …. Well, I rear where you were one of the first to integrate the all-colored school to prove your parents point.

Do you that your fathers ‘black’ friend was unable to get FHA benefits? Knowing about those knives and stuff were of benefit but did you know that colored military typically carried knives to protect themselves from folk who looked like your father? Historically, violence on Black folk was committed by White folk. It’s a fact but is it ‘racist?’ It is ‘racial.’ I had seven uncles and three aunts who served in three different ‘encounters. My father was Regular Army.

Eddie, a person without the power to exercise a threat cannot be a racist because he or she will be eliminated. A person who can, by merely stepping back on the sidewalk’ ore being quiet can support racism and benefit from the ‘first hired,’ affirmative action, preferential treatment fostered by systemic racism and bigotry.

It is unlikely that I, through sharing my many experiences on the receiving end, will convince you of your errors. For that matter, you will never convince me that our discomforts were comparable. Let the next generations resolve this continuing story.

Lock and load.

jmitchell

 
 
Rommie says:

APRIL 28, 2013
11:13 AM
  It is so sad to see a Politician in 21st Century America, using their political office to rage on innocent persons of another race, simply because of history and what Caucasians and other ethnic races did to African people, and let us not forget that in many cases African Tribes enslaved persons of other Tribes.

Mr. Mitchell can have his personal views and comments in the personal setting, but in Alabama we all of us Alabama Citizens should demand more from our Representatives and Senators, One: There is no place for Racism while conducting your Political Office duties, which include emails, commentary, on the floor of the House,Senate, in interviews and most especially to the Citizens of Alabama all of them not just the ones in your District, that Politicians should reply in a cordial demeanor with no racist remarks to the Citizens of Alabama.

It is really sad that Rep. Joe Mitchell took the man's email to all the Reps. and went on a racist tangent.

Alabama, it is time to put Racism down and be the neighbors we are supposed to be.

History is history and there is not one thing that anyone of any race can do about the Slavery situation by People past. But we can continue to say that Slavery in any form is wrong, we can say, Our Neighbor is our Brother and Sister in this world and we can say to our State Government, please enact a law that Prohibits any Politician from using their political office to Sling Racist Slurs at the General Public Citizens of this State.

I forgave Mr. Mitchell his hate speak and racist tones the day I read them. I pray that he lays down the hate so it does not consume him.

And I would love to see everyone in Alabama, the young people to the elderly remember one thing, a weapon be it verbal racist venom or steel never settles an argument. You can defend your district, and your political views on any issue without pulling out verbal weapons of bitter diatribes, you can get your point across without stooping to the levels of the KKK, and Bull Conner s of the past.
 
 
pseudoecho says:

APRIL 2, 2013
12:03 PM
  Mitchell sounds politically disillusioned, embittered, cynical and obviously filled with a deep-seeded, racially charged resentment.

In other words (per taberm's comment) probably a good representative of his constituency. As a state representative Mitchell should rise above the expletives to try and have an intelligent conversation with Maxwell

Instead of him walking down the hallway daily up in Montgomery scowling (cursing under his breath?) at pictures of former legislators that were slave owners, perhaps he should motivate himself to DO HIS JOB & vote on legislation.

Probably a better move vs. doing nothing except spewing vitriol at politically vocal citizens as if recently pissed off from watching a TiVo'd episode of "Roots".

It's ridiculously easy to identify problems - we live in an imperfect world. Get over it. Offering solutions is exponentially harder. The man may need to go seek counseling for obvious anger issues.
 
 
Laddie says:

MARCH 31, 2013
3:48 PM
  How about publishing the original email sent to Mitchell before deciding he overreacted?
 
 
bigt says:

MARCH 29, 2013
3:51 PM
  Mr. Mitchell just proves you do not have to be a rich white southerner to be a racist.
 
 
Johnny says:

MARCH 28, 2013
5:33 PM
  ASSHOLE.
 
 
taberm says:

MARCH 27, 2013
5:31 PM
  I'm sure he is receiving great adulation from his base support for this courageous stand to tell "the truth" to this racist supporter of constitutional rights! Al sharpton and Jesse Jackson are probably already booking tickets to come down and support this poor embattled statesman for his eloquent and reasonable hatred of white people. THIS is why people cannot come together for a common purpose. Trash like THAT representative will never allow it!! To get elected he has to be a hate filled bigot! That's what his supporters demand, and exactly what they get! He should be ashamed!
 
 
BamaT says:

MARCH 27, 2013
4:58 PM
  So is this idiot State Rep suggesting and provoking a racial war with weapons? He never really responded to the initial issue presented, which was don't support more gun control. BTW, most of gun control folks either do not know the racist history of gun control or choose to ignore it. Early gun control laws were enacted to keep guns out of the hands of minorities. Finaly, I find it funny that this idiot is in the party of Wallace. His party rode around in sheets on horseback terrorizing blacks. His party had a Klansman lead the US Senate (Byrd) and had a Klansman on the US Supreme Court (Black). The myth and lie is that the racists just switched parties. Facts do not support it. Fullbright, Byrd and Gore's daddy are just a few examples.
 
 
homer says:

MARCH 27, 2013
3:19 PM
  That man shouldn't be voting, I'm glad he hasn't. His emails display some kind of mental disorder. I have a feeling he's going to end up in a cartoon.
 

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What should be Mayor-elect Stimpson's top priority?

Examining the budget.
Evaluating city employees.
Addressing public safety issues.
Improving infrastructure.
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