After 50 years of leading the The Democrat-Reporter of Linden, Alabama, the paper’s owner, Goodloe Sutton, is stepping down as publisher and editor. In February, the 79-year-old wrote an editorial calling for the Ku Klux Klan to “night ride again.”
The staggering editorial with the headline “The Klan Needs to Ride Again” urged the KKK to rise up to combat “Democrats in the Republican Party and Democrats are plotting to raise taxes in Alabama.”
Photographs of the editorial quickly went viral on social media. The weekly print-only paper has a circulation of around 3,000 which has fallen by half over the past two decades.
After the editorial was published, an unapologetic Sutton said he urged the white supremacist group to “clean out D.C.” through lynching. “We’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them,” Sutton said.
During the interview, Sutton also compared the KKK to the NAACP and downplayed its murderous past. “A violent organization? Well, they didn’t kill but a few people,” Sutton said. “The Klan wasn’t violent until they needed to be.”
Alabama representative Terri A. Sewell called for called for Sutton to resign.
For the millions of people of color who have been terrorized by white supremacy, this kind of “editorializing” about lynching is not a joke – it is a threat. These comments are deeply offensive and inappropriate, especially in 2019. Mr. Sutton should apologize and resign. https://t.co/AOYYGINEdh
— Rep. Terri A. Sewell (@RepTerriSewell) February 19, 2019
On February 21, the Democrat-Reporter announced Sutton had stepped down as the paper’s publisher and editor, although he still owns the publication.
His replacement is Elecia R. Dexter, an African-American woman who holds master’s degrees in Counseling from Argosy University and Human Services from the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies.
“Ms Dexter is coming in at a pivotal time for the newspaper,” it said, “and you may have full confidence in her ability to handle these challenging times.”