Rep. Dismukes disavows KKK after posting picture from Nathan Bedford Forrest birthday celebration
State Rep. Will Dismukes (R-Prattville) is once again drawing bipartisan criticism for posting pictures of himself with the Confederate flag.
Dismukes in recent months voiced support for the Confederate Memorial Park in his district, after which the Alabama Democratic Party released a picture of him wearing a “Prattville Dragoons: Sons of Confederate Veterans” shirt and called on the freshman legislator to resign. In defending himself from that call, Dismukes ended his statement by writing, “Deo Vindice.”
“Deo Vindice,” latin for “(With) God (as our) defender/protector”), was the national motto of the Confederacy.
On Sunday, Dismukes posted a picture of himself from an annual celebration of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s birthday. Forrest was the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan following his service as a Confederate general during the Civil War.
This guy serves in the Alabama House of Representatives. pic.twitter.com/pxJich9yZe
— Blake Ells (@blakeells) July 26, 2020
Dismukes’ post about the Forrest birthday event came on the day that civil rights legend U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) lied in state at the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery.
State Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville), the majority whip in the Alabama House of Representatives, took to Twitter on Sunday evening to indirectly rebuke Dismukes.
“I cannot fathom why anyone in 2020 celebrates the birthday of the 1st KKK Grand Wizard. And while the body of a civil rights icon beaten by the Klan lies at state Capitol being honored by GOP/Dem leaders from all over the state. This mentality does not rep my party or my faith,” Garrett wrote.
Republican legislators such as State Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, publicly voiced their support of Garrett’s tweet soon thereafter.
State Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa), the chair of the Alabama Democratic Party, also made his thoughts clear in a tweet.
“This weekend while most people were celebrating the life of John Lewis, a true American Hero, Will Dismukes was in the same city celebrating Nathan Forrest, the first Grand Wizard of the KKK. This should clear up any questions about whose side Will Dismukes is on,” England said.
Dismukes on Monday morning publicly addressed his post from the previous day.
“First and foremost, my post yesterday was in no way related to disrespecting the passing of Rep. John Lewis. That wasn’t even a thought in my mind. That is not who I am as a person,” he began in a Facebook post.
“I am a transparent person,” Dismukes continued. “To the point that as a public official I lay it all there for the people to see for better or for worse at times. My post yesterday was as usual me sharing a previous days events. The post was in no way intended to seem as if I was glorifying the Klan or any party thereof. The very atrocities and actions they committed are a disgrace to our country.”
The state representative added, “Also, we are all individual members that make up our legislature. I made a post independent of my colleagues. My regret is that I have allowed them to be put in a negative light. If you disagree with me and my beliefs do not hold them under the same umbrella. I can live with a dislike for me, but not fellow members, or members of my own personal family. Our body as a whole is made up of some of the finest people I have ever had the honor of knowing and working with, both Democrat and Republican.”
“I close by reiterating that my post was in no way glorifying the Klan or disrespecting the late Rep. John Lewis,” Dismukes concluded.
Dismukes mounted a short bid for the U.S. House of Representatives in Alabama’s Second Congressional District this cycle before ultimately suspending his campaign.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn