JEFFERSON CITY – A Missouri lawmaker who called for the vandal of a Confederate monument to be hanged won't be punished, the state House speaker said Thursday.
While calling fellow Republican Rep. Warren Love's comments inappropriate, House Speaker Todd Richardson told reporters he won't take any action against him.
"But I hope there will continue to be dialogue between Love and members offended by comments," Richardson said.
Love came under fire for an August Facebook post expressing hope that whoever vandalized the Springfield, Missouri, monument would be "hung from a tall tree with a long rope." He has said he was using old cowboy jargon for saying he hopes the vandal is prosecuted, but Democrats have said his words evoke images of lynchings of black people.
The House Ethics Committee voted in January to recommend Love be reprimanded and stripped of his committee assignments. But by simply disagreeing with that recommendation, Love was able to derail the effort. His fellow Republicans on the committee then voted down an opportunity to revive that possible punishment by continuing the ethics review.
House Democratic leader Gail McCann Beatty, who filed a complaint against Love, said Thursday she wanted a different outcome. She added that Love last week voted against a contested bill that would have increased penalties for harming police dogs, which drew harsh criticism particularly from black lawmakers who cited the use of police dogs on African-American protesters historically.
"Hopefully all of this has had some impact on Rep. Love," McCann Beatty said. "And at least he recognizes that your words have meaning and at least will be more considerate when he says things."