A Colorado lawmaker with a history of racially offensive behavior commemorated Martin Luther King Jr. Day by claiming that white and black people were lynched “in nearly equal numbers” in the United States.
State Rep. Lori Saine (R) delivered a speech on the Colorado House floor on Monday complaining that she was “barred from introducing a resolution [honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day] because of the color of her skin.” Saine is white.
“We have come a long way on that arc since the Reconstruction, since whites and blacks alike were in nearly equal numbers lynched for the crime of being Republican,” Saine told her colleagues — asserting that King represented her heritage too, and that she should also not be judged by the color of her skin.
FULL VIDEO: Colorado State Representative @lorisaine honors MLK by saying how whites and blacks alike were lynched in "nearly equal" numbers following Reconstruction "for the crime of being republican." #coleg #copolitics #kdvr #mlk pic.twitter.com/8Xo5EWa81r
— Joe St. George (@JoeStGeorge) January 21, 2019
According to the NAACP, there were 4,743 recorded lynchings in the United States between 1882 and 1968. Of those, 72.7 percent targeted black people, while 27.3 percent targeted white people.
Saine has previously sparked controversy in the Colorado legislature.
In 2013, for example, Saine grew upset after a Republican state senator was criticized for suggesting that members of the “black race” were more likely to be poor and diabetic because they ate too much chicken. As what she reportedly called a “silent protest,” Saine showed up at an Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force with a box of Popeye’s chicken (she later denied that it was a protest, claiming she was just “having chicken for dinner”). Then-state GOP chairman Ryan Call said at the time that Saine’s gesture was “insensitive and hurtful’ and not representative of the party.
Saine also co-sponsored controversial legislation in 2014 to prohibit Coloradans from accessing public assistance funds at the ATMs at marijuana dispensaries, days after a county Republican Party committee mistook for reality a fake story entitled “Colorado Pot Shop Accepting Food Stamps — Taxpayer Funded Marijuana for Welfare Recipients” that appeared on the satirical website National Report.
Saine, who was arrested but not charged in 2017 after she, by “accident,” brought a loaded handgun to the Denver International Airport, was not the only conservative who attempted to re-appropriate King’s message this MLK Day.
The National Rifle Association tweeted a suggestion on Monday that King might not have been assassinated if he he had not once been denied a concealed carry permit. In response, King’s daughter, Bernice King, noted that this permit application came before King “evolved” to embrace “his nonviolent philosophy.”
This is not the full story, @NRA. My father evolved beyond this moment. Your tweet is a regrettable, very unfortunate one, especially on today. I invite you to study him and his nonviolent philosophy @TheKingCenter. #MLK90 #MLK #MLKDay https://t.co/18LytUtRFg
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) January 21, 2019
During an appearance on Face the Nation on Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence suggested that King would have supported President Donald Trump’s border wall, taking a quote out of context.
“One of my favorite quotes from Dr. King was, ‘Now is the time to make the real promises of democracy.’ You think of how he changed America,” Pence said. “He inspired us to change through legislative process to become a more perfect union. That’s exactly what President Trump is calling on the Congress to do: Come to the table in a spirit of good faith. We’ll secure our border, we’ll reopen our government.”
King’s son, Martin Luther King III, dismissed the argument at a National Action Network breakfast on Monday, saying his father “was a bridge builder, not a wall builder.”
Pence and Trump made a very brief visit to the MLK Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Monday. Trump then spent the rest of the day tweeting about the dangers of “illegal immigrants” and defending the students who taunted a Native American man in a viral video over the weekend.