It hasn’t even been a month since Mississippi Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith “joked” about sitting in the “front row” for a “public hanging” while an all-white crowd laughed and laughed at her hilarious quip, but already, one of her constituents has graciously volunteered their time to hang not one, but two nooses outside the state capitol.
According to WLBT, a pair of nooses were discovered on the Mississippi state capitol grounds early Monday morning. They were quickly removed by Capitol Police, who told the station they were investigating the incident by reviewing surveillance video.
WLBT also reported that “several hate signs” were left nearby, although Capitol Police have not released what those signs said. I have reached out to the Capitol Police for the latest on their investigation, and will update this story if they respond.
Notably, even if Hyde-Smith hadn’t mentioned hangings a few weeks back, nooses would still have made a surprise appearance during this year’s midterm elections. Earlier this month, Olive Branch voter Clayton Hickey was fired from his hospital job after he was photographed at a polling station wearing a shirt reading “Mississippi justice,” which featured a noose and Confederate flag.
The incident takes on an even uglier meaning considering Mississippi’s history and the radical departure the state could take from its past on Tuesday. According to the NAACP, Mississippi had the most lynchings in America during the Jim Crow era, with 581 lynching murders between 1882 and 1968. And if Democrat Mike Espy defeats Hyde-Smith on Tuesday, he’ll become the first black senator from Mississippi since Reconstruction.
Hyde-Smith, who has led Espy in the limited polling done ahead of Tuesday’s election, has since apologized to “anyone that was offended by my comments” about hangings in a state with a long history of racist lynchings. She insisted that she meant “no ill will, no intent whatsoever in my statements.” Nevertheless, several weeks later it was revealed that she attended a so-called “segregation academy” set up to allow white students to avoid learning alongside black students in Mississippi’s then-recently enacted anti-segregation laws—and when she became a parent herself, sent her daughter to another one of these nearly all-white schools.
I have reached out to Hyde-Smith’s campaign for comment on the nooses, and will update this story if they respond. In the meantime, perhaps we should just assume she’s waiting for chairs to be set up around the nooses so she can claim her seat in the front row.
Update, 5:06 p.m.: NBC News reports that the signs appear to criticize Hyde-Smith and the state’s history of racism. “On Tuesday Nov. 27, thousands of Mississippians will vote for a senator. We need someone who respects the lives of lynch victims,” while another said “We’re hanging nooses to remind people that times haven’t changed.” As of this update, Splinter has still not received a response from the Capitol Police.