A school board member in a Louisiana parish was harshly criticized after sharing an image of a noose on social media with a message calling for stricter punishment for “evil people.”
“If we want to make America great again we will have to make evil people fear punishment again,” read the text superimposed over the image of a hangman’s noose on a black background.
Mike Whitlow, a member of the school board of Tangipahoa Parish, north of Lake Pontchartrain, shared the image this week, according to the Advocate.
Screen images seen by the newspaper indicate Whitlow deleted the post and apologized “to anyone who was offended” by it. In an interview with Action News 17, Whitlow referred to the school shooting last week in Florida and said his Facebook post was prompted by his belief that punishments for violent crime should be stricter.
“I guess in retrospect I should have a little bit more control over my emotions about those issues, and again there’s no malice, no intent to hurt anybody or anything like that,” he said.
Tangipahoa Parish Council member Louis Joseph told the Advocate that the post sent the wrong message to schoolchildren and teachers.
“I am extremely offended by his post as we all know the history and meaning of the hangman’s noose, especially as it pertains to African Americans,” Joseph wrote in a letter to the Action News 17 site, as quoted by the Advocate.
In a statement Tuesday, Whitlow apologized.
“I am deeply saddened by the reaction to a Facebook repost made yesterday,” he said, adding the image was meant to illustrate an article advocating for stiffer sentences for violent offenses. “For those that know me, I am confident that you will attest that I am a man of faith and inclusion.”
According to the Advocate, the post was first published on a pro-gun Facebook page called Weapons Vault.