TNDP, TNGOP clash over South Carolina slayings

State Democratic Chair Mary Mancini has sent an email to party supporters comparing the murder of nine church members in South Carolina last week to the 1940 murder of an early NAACP leader in Brownsville, TN. She had attended a memorial service marking the 75th anniversary of his death. At the bottom of the party email is a link inviting readers to donate to TNDP.

State Republican Chairman Ryan Haynes responded with a press release denouncing Democrats for using the “horrific tragedy” as a fundraising device. The Democrat, replying to an emailed invitation to respond, said the Haynes release is “fake outrage.”

Below are 1) the Mancini missive; 2) the TNGOP’s news release and 3) TNDP’s emailed response to it.

Tennessee Democratic Party email, written by Mancini
On Saturday morning I attended an event that had been on my calendar for many months but that took on additional significance in light of the horrific murders in Charleston, S.C.

The event was the commemoration of a little known piece of Tennessee history – the murder of Elbert Williams, a founding member of the first NAACP Chapter established in 1939, in Brownsville, Haywood County, TN. One year later, Mr. Williams was overheard organizing a voter registration drive in his community, was taken from his home by members of the Brownsville Police Department, shot dead, and thrown in the Hatchie River.

(Following a quotation from the Elbert Williams memorial website on circumstances of his slaying, the email continues.)

Last Saturday morning, while sitting in the gym of the Haywood County High School in Brownsville, TN, it was impossible not to draw a straight line from the murder of Mr. Williams to the shootings in Charleston.

And yet, we refuse to do so. Some are already treating this as an isolated incident, much the same way in which we treat every mass shooting in this country – as an isolated incident. We forget history so quickly.

We’re seeing the pattern play out again now – outrage, 24/7 news coverage, push back by the Right on the murderer’s motives, and then nothing – no changes to public policy and no shift “in how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively” – a shift that could keep us safe from these kinds of mass killings; that could keep us safe at school, or church, or in Bible study.

75 years after the racially motivated murder of Elbert Williams in Brownsville, TN, we witness the racially-motivated mass murder in Charleston. 75 years after a murder motivated by the “collective evil of Jim Crow,” we witness multiple murders motivated by the collective evil of 21st-Century Racism. This time, there is no way we can blame mental illness.

The murders in Charleston have uncovered a “gaping racial wound that will not heal, yet we pretend doesn’t exist.”

If we continue to pretend the “gaping racial wound” doesn’t exist, if we continue to be afraid to bring it out in the open and talk about it, if we continue to remain silent, then we will be complicit in perpetuating “the collective evil of 21st-Century Racism.”
(There follows an icon labeled “Invest in TNGOP. By following it, you can make a donation to the state Democratic party.)

News release from Tennessee Republican Party
NASHVILLE, Tenn.—After learning the Tennessee Democratic Party released a fundraising solicitation centered on the tragic events in Charleston, South Carolina, Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Ryan Haynes released a stern rebuke of the TNDP’s embarrassing action:

“Tennessee Democrats are seeking to raise money off of a tragedy. They’re trying to profit from a horrific situation. That is inappropriate in every sense of the word. It’s disrespectful to a community that is still living this horror. It is highly disrespectful to those who lost their lives last Wednesday night in Charleston.

“Americans of all colors from all over the nation are outraged by this act of hate and we mourn along with our fellow citizens in Charleston. That kind of unity doesn’t happen enough in America. It is happening now.

“And yet, here are Tennessee Democrats pleaing for money with division a day after 20,000 individuals joined together in Charleston. The Tennessee Democratic Party has sunk to a new low. They routinely prove they are out-of-touch. Today, they showed they’re out of line.

“The TNDP should immediately apologize for fundraising off of a tragedy and contribute all money raised from this callous solicitation to the Charleston Emanuel AME church.”


• Last Wednesday night in Charleston, South Carolina, nine members of the Charleston Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church were slain by a gunman.
• In response to the tragedy, 20,000 individuals joined together for a march in Charleston to rally support for the families of the victims and the Charleston AME church.
• Last Friday, the TNGOP tweeted out to its followers to contribute directly to the church to help with funeral costs for the victims.

Emailed response from Mancini in response to request on the TNGOP release:
“The Tennessee Republican Party is once again manufacturing fake outrage. Our statement addressed the root cause of this tragedy, racism in America. The TNDP will not apologize for acknowledging this fact.

We are committed to calling out and eliminating racism across our state and if the TNGOP finds that divisive, then it raises serious doubts about their commitment to creating a better Tennessee for all Tennesseans.

The email that was sent earlier by the TNDP used our standard email template. There was no fundraising language in the body of the email.”

Note: Among previous related posts are those HERE, and HERE.