- Ernie Suggs The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
State Rep. Jason Spencer’s nasty spat with LaDawn Jones began and has now apparently ended on Facebook.
The Republican, who threatened that Jones “will go missing in the Okefenokee” if she continued to push for the removal of Confederate monuments in Georgia, met with her Wednesday morning for a rousing Facebook Live discussion.
The meeting to clarify a threat that had a not-so-veiled lynching reference, was held on Auburn Avenue in the Odd Fellows Building, built in 1912 to show black economic progress. That was also the year that at least 64 people were lynched across America, including a notorious lynching in Forsyth County that preceded the removal of all blacks from the county.
“I won’t give him a pass, but Jason and I have talked about this off line,” Jones said. “Now the issue, because it became a media issue, is for the rest of the world to understand what the problem was. … My biggest concern is that we have people in this country who are comfortable causing physical harm over monuments.”
Spencer said he and Jones were “able to sit next to each other and talk about things that are divisive in our country. If we can’t do that, we are falling into the trap of the PC country. We have to have these conversations, whether they are uncomfortable or squeamish. But they are necessary.”
The two, in a bit of bipartisanship, also presented a plan that would would allow local communities to decide whether Civil War monuments should remain on public property.
The proposal, which Spencer plans to push during next year’s session and which Jones helped craft, would overhaul a state law that makes it illegal to “relocate, remove, conceal or obscure” any Confederate memorial. The bill would also make Stone Mountain, a repository for Civil War statues that communities decide they don’t want.
Jones, who is black, was a Democrat in the House from 2012 to 2016, representing Atlanta. Her seat mate was Spencer, who is white, whose district is in Southeast Georgia.
The two always maintained a cordial relationship, they said. Besides, they are Facebook friends.
The argument between Spencer and Jones two started the way most Facebook fights start – with a photo.
Late last month, Spencer posted a photo of himself in front of the new Martin Luther King Jr. statue at the State Capitol. He said that he got several comments about the photo, including several negative ones.
Later, he posted a photo of himself at the Jefferson Davis Memorial in Irwinville with the caption: “This is Georgia’s history. #Dealwithit.”
That caught Jones’ attention. She told him to cherish the photo, because soon Confederate memorials across the state would be coming down.
Then in classic Facebook fashion, the conversation dissolved into threats, insults and “Game of Thrones” references.
Jones: African-Americans endured 400 years of slavery and 30 years of Jim Crow, yet we persisted.
Spencer: Continue your quixotic journey into South Georgia and it will not be pretty.
Jones: Put your hoods and tiki torches away. We are no longer afraid. We will win.
Spencer: I can guarantee you won’t be met with torch. But something more definitive.
After someone chimed in that Atlanta is not Georgia, Spencer continued: You got that right. They will go missing in the Okefenokee. Too many necks there are red around here. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about ‘em.
Jones: Sounds like a threat. Is that what we are doing now?… Enjoy but know, “Winter is Coming.” You know it, too.
Jones on Wednesday said Spencer’s comments, coming after the death of a counter-protester in Charlottesville, were inappropriate.
“That was coming off of Charlottesville and discussions around the country about confederate memorials,” Jones said. “As a result of my comment, the conversation devolved into something that became a national headline. Had he been standing next to me, I would have said it with a smile and a laugh. I don’t know if the conversation would have gone in the same direction. I am not afraid of discussion, even when it makes people uncomfortable.”
Spencer said that he regrets responding to Jones and, more specifically, the phrase “go missing in the Okefenokee.”
“(But) there is a warning in that. There are bad people out there who will do bad things over an issue like this,” Spencer said. “We saw that happen in Charlottesville.”