During a criminal justice committee meeting in Nashville, Tennessee this week, one lawmaker made an eyebrow-raising proposition. While speaking before members on Tuesday (Feb. 28), Rep. Paul Sherrell, R-Sparta, suggested bringing back “hanging by tree” as a form of capital punishment.
While many associate this style of execution with lynching, especially in southern states like Tennessee, the representative saw no issues with his suggestion at the time. “I was just wondering, could I put an amendment on that, that would include hanging by a tree, also?” Sherrell inquired during the discussion. According to the Equal Justice Initiative, there were “233 victims of racial terror lynching in Tennessee… between 1877 and 1950.” With such an outlandish proposal, it didn’t take long for citizens and social media users alike to challenge Sherrell’s way of thinking.
WHY THE FUCK would Rep. Paul Sherrell of Tennessee want to bring back HANGING BY A TREE?????
RT to make sure everyone sees this shit. pic.twitter.com/anOZbHESEb
— BrooklynDad_Defiant!☮️ (@mmpadellan) March 2, 2023
“WHY THE F**K would Rep. Paul Sherrell of Tennessee want to bring back HANGING BY A TREE????? [Retweet] to make sure everyone sees this s**t,” one user tweeted. Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump did see the post, and added, “This is UNREAL! Republican Rep. Paul Sherrell proposed Tennessee amend their death penalty to include HANGING by tree during a House criminal justice committee meeting! How in 2023 can a government official have such a grotesque suggestion leave his mouth?!”
Meanwhile, someone who stumbled across the politician in person was sure to give Sherrell a piece of his mind. “You know lynching’s a hate crime, right? You wanna bring back lynching people? How racist are you exactly, Paul? Just like one to 10, one to 10, how racist are you?” a man said as he followed the Tennessee Republican with a camera. It’s worth noting that Sherrell laughed throughout the video. Yesterday (March 1), his press secretary released a statement on his behalf: “My exaggerated comments were intended to convey my belief that for the cruelest and most heinous crimes, a just society requires the death penalty in kind. Although a victim’s family cannot be restored when an execution is carried out, a lesser punishment undermines the value we place on protecting life. I sincerely apologize to anyone who may have been hurt or offended.”
See more reactions below.
WATCH: “You know lynching’s a hate crime now, right? How racist are you exactly, Paul?”
Rep. Paul Sherrell (R-Sparta) — who wants to change part of John Lewis Way to “Trump Blvd.” in Nashville — just said he wants to bring “hanging people from trees” back to Tennessee. pic.twitter.com/1NeU2sGRnW
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) March 1, 2023
This is UNREAL! Republican Rep. Paul Sherrell proposed Tennessee amend their death penalty to include HANGING by tree during a House Criminal Justice Committee meeting! How in 2023 can a government official have such a grotesque suggestion leave his mouth?! 🎥: @thetnholler pic.twitter.com/ZaSMotHvcP
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) March 2, 2023
Hey everybody, this is Tennessee State Representative Paul Sherrell (R), he wants to bring back lynching as a form of execution for Tennessee.
If you didn't know, know you know. This is serious. pic.twitter.com/q66c8gFHnB
— 🔸️Angry.Ostriches.Are.No.Fun. (@DaAngryOstrich) March 1, 2023
Rep Powers brings HB1245 to Criminal Justice Full Comm. to bring back the electric chair & firing squads to expedite state killings & give the condemned a “choice.” Rep. Sherrell is excited to support the bill & suggests we bring back lynching & he will sign on to cosponsor.🥲 pic.twitter.com/54NF588I8B
— Rep. Gloria Johnson (@VoteGloriaJ) March 1, 2023