Calls for resignation of Texas congressman who invoked lynching in Asian hate crime hearing

Democrats said Roy’s comments were ‘painful and offensive’

Mayank Aggarwal
Friday 19 March 2021 05:57 GMT
House Lawmakers Discuss Violence Against Asian Americans

Democrats are calling for the resignation of Texas congressman Chip Roy after he invoked lynching during the house committee hearing on rising Asian hate crime.

The  US House Judiciary Committee hearing on rising anti-Asian violence comes days after the Atlanta shootings in which six Asian-American women were shot dead across three spas.

During the hearing, Mr Roy, a Republican, said: “We believe in justice … There’s old sayings in Texas about... ‘find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree’. You know, we take justice very seriously, and we ought to do that. Round up the bad guys.”

He also said he had concerns about the hearing on the basis that “it seems to want to venture into the policing of rhetoric in a free society, free speech”.

His comments immediately drew a backlash and the Texas Democratic Party demanded Mr Roy step down from the committee. But the Texas congressman refused to resign or apologise for his remarks.

Congressman Steve Cohen, a Democrat who was also a part of the hearing, said: “While speech is important and has meaning, the incidents I mentioned in my opening statement were being spat at, slapped in the face, lit on fire, slashed with a box cutter, and shoved violently to the ground as the video showed... that’s not speech.”

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Demanding Mr Roy’s resignation, the Texas Democrats said in a statement that his “glorification of lynching is a direct attack on Black Americans”.

“Roy made these comments during a hearing on anti-Asian hate and violence — which has been on the rise for the last year, fueled by racist rhetoric from Roy’s own party.

“No elected official in America should be able to glorify lynching — one of the darkest stains on our country — and remain in office. Roy’s actions are putting Texans in danger. He is unfit to represent Texans,” the statement said.

Texas Democratic chair Gilberto Hinojosa said it is an “outrage, and terrifying, to hear a congressman claiming any connection between lynchings and justice”.

“Chip Roy is a danger to Americans... Roy’s invoking of lynching is part and parcel of the campaign of terror Republicans have been waging on communities of colour for years. Roy’s words are a white supremacist dog whistle you can spot from a mile away,” said Mr Hinojosa.

He said Roy’s comments were “painful and offensive to a country” that is reeling from the horrifying anti-Asian attacks in Atlanta. “Roy is perpetuating the racist systems that harm us and contributing to the terror people of colour face every day in our country. We cannot allow him to remain in office a single day longer.”

Congressman Grace Meng also condemned Mr Roy’s comments and said: “Your president and your party and your colleagues can talk about issues with any other country that you want but you don’t have to do it by putting a bullseye on the back of Asian Americans across this country.

“This hearing was to address the hurt and pain of our community, trying to find solutions … And we will not let you take our voice away from us,” she said.

While congressman Ted Lieu noted that Mr Roy “glorified lynching at a hearing on violence against Asians”.

“The largest mass lynching in US history was against Chinese immigrants. I served on active duty in the US military to defend [Chip Roy’s] right to say stupid, racist stuff. I just wish he would stop saying it,” Mr Lieu tweeted.

Senator Mazie Hirono also criticised Mr Roy’s comments and said his “outrageous and offensive comments represent the myopic inability of Republicans to step up and confront the racial hatred/violence targeting Asian Americans right now”.

“Waiting for Republican leaders to condemn this hatred/violence is like waiting for Godot,” she tweeted.

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