A Colorado state lawmaker claimed both “whites and blacks alike” experienced lynching “in nearly equal numbers” for being Republicans in a speech last week honoring the late Martin Luther King Jr.
“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, a Republican, said Friday.
According to the Denver Post, her remarks were in response to a controversy regarding state Rep. Perry Buck's attempt to push a resolution related to the late civil rights leader. Buck, a Republican, was allegedly told she couldn’t sponsor the resolution because of her race.
“My colleagues, how can you redeem your marginalized voice by marginalizing ours? Our march towards justice is not over when a colleague is barred from introducing a resolution on this floor because of the color of her skin,” Saine said. “Our march of justice is not over when a member of this body who represents Americans of all races, creeds and religions is told that Martin Luther King does not represent her heritage.”
Saine posted the video of her remarks to Facebook, saying, “It is always more convenient to stay silent.”
State Rep. Leslie Herod, chair of the Black Democratic Caucus, derided Saine’s remarks as “extremely problematic.”
“The lynching comment is extremely problematic, in the sense that it really does kind of take away and hide some of the dark past that this country has faced,” Herod told Colorado Public Radio. “And if we’re not honest about our history, if we don’t face our past, then we’ll never be able to move forward as [a] nation and a country. And so her comments really sought, I think, to water down the realities of the march for justice and for civil rights.”
According to the NAACP, nearly 73 percent of people who were lynched from 1882 to 1968 were black. Many of the white people who were lynched were being punished for helping black people, the NAACP said. It noted that many lynchings were not recorded.
The political affiliation of those who suffered this punishment was not recorded in the NAACP’s statistics. University of Northern Colorado professor Fritz Fischer said Saine’s assertion was incorrect.
“Blacks were lynched for the ‘crime of being black’ which obviously isn’t a crime – and not even close to equal numbers,” Fischer told The Greeley Tribune. “I suppose there were a certain number of blacks who were lynched who were Republican. But that was coincidental.”
He also noted the Republican Party from that time period is starkly different than the GOP now.
Saine has made headlines before. In 2013, she was criticized by the state GOP for bringing fried chicken to a meeting of the legislature’s poverty task force. And she was arrested in 2017 after she brought a loaded handgun to the Denver International Airport.
Saine represents the 63rd district, which includes Weld County, in the state House.