- Associated Press - Monday, February 16, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A DeSoto County state representative said Monday that comments he made to The Clarion-Ledger newspaper (https://on.thec-l.com/1DZuLd7) in a Sunday story were taken out of context as state officials condemned his remarks.

Republican Rep. Gene Alday made the remarks about the DeSoto County town of Walls, where he was formerly police chief and mayor before winning election to the Legislature in 2011.

“I come from a town where all the blacks are getting food stamps and what I call ‘welfare crazy checks.’ They don’t work,” Alday was quoted as saying by the Jackson newspaper.

He had to go to the emergency room for pain, he said. “I liked to died. I laid in there for hours because they (blacks) were in there being treated for gunshots.”

Alday now says he didn’t intend the remarks for publication and bears no ill will toward anyone, citing past actions to help black people.

Because of an ice storm in northern Mississippi, Alday was not present when the House met Monday. A spokesman for House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, said the speaker would meet with Alday Tuesday.

Gunn and Gov. Phil Bryant issued statements Monday condemning the remarks.

“Rep. Alday is solely responsible for his remarks,” the Republican Bryant said. “I strongly reject his comments condemning any Mississippian because of their race. Those days are long past.”

“I condemn the comments recently made by Rep. Gene Alday,” Gunn said. “They do not reflect the views of the Republican party, nor of the leadership of the House of Representatives.”

A number of Democrats are also criticizing the statements.

“The Republican leadership should take responsibility for the philosophical and ideological platform of its members, including messages that are reprehensible and divisive,” said state Rep. Chuck Espy, D-Clarksdale. “We should lambaste Alday, and also check those whom allow him the opportunity to speak.”

A group of mostly black House Democrats held a news conference after the House adjourned Monday to call for a dialogue with state government leaders over issues including funding for public education and historically black state universities and the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid.

Rep. Robert Johnson, R-Natchez, said he feared that Alday’s willingness to criticize black people showed that such racial feeling was widespread.

“If he was comfortable enough to make these statements, it’s an indication to us there are conversations like that going on all the time,” Johnson said.

Alday rejected calls for his resignation, saying he plans to seek another term.


Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, https://www.clarionledger.com

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