TALLADEGA COUNTY -- The Talladega County and Alabama State chapters of the NAACP released a statement Friday evening condemning recent statements made by Sylacauga mayoral candidate Michael Ray James on his Facebook campaign page.
In its statement, the Alabama NAACP said it believes “Mr. James’ outrageous rhetoric does irreparable harm to the citizens of Alabama who have had a history of hangings and other hate crimes.
“Furthermore, his offensive and riot-vicious language is not a representation of the teachers entrusted to work with our most vulnerable school children. It goes against the ethics, values and character that school teachers must adhere to.”
James, a 59-year-old who has served as a special education teacher for more than 15 years and is currently on faculty at Coosa Central Elementary School, first made his platform seeking to hang drug dealers after a third conviction known via a photo of what appears to be a business card on his Michael R. James for Mayor of Sylacauga Facebook page on May 8.
He doubled down on his position in a post on the Facebook page May 13 that he referred to as his response regarding drug dealers.
“Please consider that drug dealers have murdered, for profit, approximately 1,000,000 teenagers, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles in a short 20-year period,” he said via the post. “Yes, I’m very aware public hanging is extreme and totally not possible without federal approvals and not from city or state officials. Extreme yes, but definitely brings attention to this scourge on Sylacauga, Alabama, and the United States of America.
“Drugs like fentanyl, meth, cocaine, crack and heroin are increasingly being dumped on Americans from Asia and South America. My concern has nothing to do with addicts but only drug dealers. I’ve watched children and entire family units be destroyed because we’ve given up on the so-called ‘War on Drugs.’”
In his condemning remarks, Alabama NAACP President Benard Simelton questioned whether James could be entrusted in his current role in Coosa County Schools.
“The NAACP believes that individuals with the views of Michael Ray James are not worthy to serve as an elected official of any office, especially mayor,” he said. “Additionally, as a teacher in our schools, we believe the school board needs to review his record and determine if this is the type of person we want educating our children.”
The Rev. Hugh Morris, president of the Talladega County NAACP, gave a stern rebuke of James’ comments.
“Drug dealers from Sylacauga and surrounding areas don't travel to Asia or South America to bring drugs back by ship or plane to this area,” he said. “This is obviously a tiny, warped-minded person with underlying ‘personal issues.’ I shiver to think that someone of this demented mental capacity could be shaping young people's minds anywhere, in any capacity.
“And, to speak so negatively about the citizens who would consider voting for him is a vivid glimpse of the darkness of this person's heart. I am saddened that we must give credence to such vicious rhetoric by having to speak to such garbage.”
James gave a rebuttal via text message, incorporating a portion of a post he made late Thursday night on his Facebook campaign page while asking the NAACP a follow-up question..
“My position on taking the lives of murderous drug dealers, after three convictions, has not a single thread or motivation of my being racist,” he said. “Think about this … there are far, far more caucasian drug dealers than black drug dealers. You are disparaging your own race by assuming/asserting that all drugs dealers are black.
“You will never, ever find a more non-racist person than myself. IT’S ABOUT ALL DRUG DEALERS. Again, we both know there are far more caucasian drug dealers than black drug dealers. OK? Thank you.
“Without diverting from their response to my position, just one related question for the NAACP -- what are you doing about the black-on-black crimes in all cities across the U.S. that are almost always drug-related?”