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Mask overlooks racial remarks

Published 12:00pm Saturday, March 30, 2013

A state representative from Mobile has put Alabama back in the national headlines, once again for the worst of reasons.
After an Alabama citizen, Eddie Maxwell, emailed legislators imploring them not to consider any new firearm restrictions this session, Rep. Joseph Mitchell (D-Mobile) replied with a racially charged salvo that made nationalw headlines.
“Your folk never used all this (expletive) to protect my folk from your slave-holding, murdering, adulterous, baby-raping, incestuous, snaggle-toothed, backward-a**ed, inbreed, imported criminal-minded kinfolk,” Mitchell wrote to Maxwell, who is white.
Local lawmaker Rep. Barry Mask (R-Wetumpka), said the email was “pretty offensive,” but “I don’t think he was serious.”
“I’ve been around him,” Mask said Thursday. “He’s always saying funny stuff, kidding around. But in an email, the tone doesn’t come across. I don’t think he really meant that, but he shouldn’t have said it.”
Mask said the issue is likely to get Mitchell called before the House Internal Affairs Committee, of which Mask is vice chairman.
Asked whether he thought the lawmaker should resign, Mask said “that’s not for me to say.”
“You ultimately answer to your constituents,” he said.
Mitchell serves House District 103, which stretches from midtown Mobile to Theodore.
Even Mitchell’s fellow Democrats hurried to denounce the racially charged comments, saying they “do not represent the values of Alabama Democrats.”
“As far as the Alabama Democratic Party is concerned Rep. Mitchell stands alone in this matter and speaks only for himself,” party leaders wrote in a statement Thursday.
“The level of discourse in our Legislature and by our legislators has been diminished and the Alabama Democratic Party deplores any rhetoric that divides the people of Alabama.”
Mask said the issue would be dealt with in some form or fashion, but suspected the Legislature would handle any reprimand “in a low-key manner.”
“Anything racial in Alabama runs and runs, and we don’t want to keep it running,” he said. “It’s offensive and it’s made national news and drug Alabama through the trash.”
Even Maxwell’s original email plea — to protect Second Amendment gun rights — was already pretty much guaranteed.
“Taking away guns here?” Mask said. “That’s like someone asking if we were going to get rid of Alabama and Auburn football.”

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