Illustration for article titled ‘I Am Very Serious About Them Losing Their Life’: Alabama Mayoral Candidate Calls for Public Hanging of Drug Dealers
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An Alabama mayoral candidate—in the 21st century—wants to bring back public hangings as punishment for drug dealers.

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According to AL.com, James Earl Ray...sorry...Michael Ray James, who is running for mayor in the small city of Sylacauga, is calling for the execution of repeat drug dealers by way of hanging. James has made several Facebook posts advocating for the practice and—in case you’re assuming he’s just being hyperbolic or saying things for shock value—has made it part of his platform as a candidate.

“I am serious about, after somebody has been convicted three times, I am very serious about them losing their life, whether it’s to lethal injection or hanging,” James told AL.com.

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Last week, James posted the following on Facebook:

“Please consider that Drug Dealers have murdered, for profit, approximately 1,000,000 teenagers, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles in a short 20 year period. Yes, I’m very aware public hanging is extreme and totally not possible without Federal Approvals and not from city or state officials. Extreme yes, but definitely brings attention to this scourge on Sylacauga, Alabama and the United States of America. Drugs like Fentanyl, Meth, Cocaine, Crack and Heroin are increasingly being dumped on Americans from Asia and South America. My concern has nothing to do with addicts but only Drug Dealers. I’ve watched children and entire Family units be destroyed because we’ve given up on the so called ‘War on Drugs.’”

James’ proposed policy for handling drug dealers is outrageous for a couple reasons: First, he’s talking about hanging people, which is bound to raise the eyebrows of the nearly 34 percent of Sylacauga’s population who are black. After all, James is running for mayor in a state with such a deep history of lynching that it has a whole lynching museum. Secondly, the death penalty is supposed to be reserved for perpetrators of the most heinous crimes, which typically include actual murder—not drug dealers who haven’t committed violent crimes.

James, who is a special education teacher at Central Elementary in Coosa County, said he’s seen in his students the effects drugs have on children and families. He told AL.com that he’s “not a nut” and that his “biggest concern is what drugs can do to a community.”

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“It seems like nothing’s being done about the drug problem,” he said. “Something should be done about it.”

Sure, something should be done about drug addiction and trafficking in any city. But this ain’t it, chief. More death isn’t the answer and public hangings in the year 2020 will always look more like good old-fashioned racism than any kind of a solution.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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