Georgia sheriff calls for return to 'tradition of hanging traitors' in FB post amidst George Floyd protests
Grady County Sheriff Harry Young insisted his post was not aimed at protesters and that he was speaking about political figures
A longtime Georgia sheriff has found himself in hot water after sharing a Facebook post suggesting that the country should return to the "tradition of hanging traitors." Grady County Sheriff Harry Young, who is currently serving his fourth term as sheriff and is running for reelection in the coming week, had first posted a meme on his Facebook page depicting a painting of prisoners as they were set to be executed.
"Can we get back to the tradition of hanging traitors?" bold letters splashed across the picture read. While there were a few who criticized the post for being insensitive, it was also inundated with comments praising Young. "That's my sheriff!" one user wrote, while another praised him as the "greatest sheriff" in Georgia.
The post also happened to catch the attention of Laura Register, a Democratic activist and former county board of education member, who said she was "completely disgusted" by the suggestion, as well as some of the other content on Young's page.
"I'm completely disgusted by the facebook posts of our Sheriff Harry Young," she wrote in a post of her own, where she shared a screenshot of Young posting the controversial meme. "This is just one example. If you think people that don't look like him will get a fair chance you need to think again. Silence is complicity and I won't be silent."
She also said she felt it was "important to shine a light on what our lead law enforcement official in the county is promoting" in light of all the unrest in the country and that Young's rhetoric was dangerous.
While the post was initially shared on May 8, Young replied to Register's criticism as protesters took to the street in several cities across the country to protest police brutality and racial injustice after George Floyd's Memorial Day death at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
"If you like destroying hard working people’s property because of one officer’s horrible decision then you are the problem !!!” he wrote.
Speaking to the Thomasville Times-Enterprise, Young insisted that the post was not aimed at protesters and was unrelated to racial tensions. He said it was a reference to Democratic political figures such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and was not meant to be taken literally.
"I was talking about traitors of America in the political field," he claimed. "They’re almost like spies. They need to be dealt with, and they used to be, but now it seems like it’s OK."
He later told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he was also talking about people like billionaire George Soros "who are funding people going out and funding people who are protesting" and that he wanted to see them in prison.
Young is not the first police official to come under fire amidst the George Floyd protests either. MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) previously reported how a Louisiana police officer had suggested the 46-year-old's truck driver's death was the result of a "common mistake and poor technique."
Shreveport Police Sgt. Brent Mason, who has reportedly been in the force for two and half decades, also suggested, without evidence, that Floyd may have had a health condition that put him at a higher risk of dying because of the technique, and that could have died of delirium — a condition common in men with a history of mental illness and drug abuse.