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A Georgia State Representative Suggested That People Who Want Confederate Statues Removed Could "Go Missing"

In an exchange on his Facebook page, State Rep. Jason Spencer suggested there are bad outcomes for people who try to "erase history" by trying to remove Confederate statues.

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On Monday, a Republican state representative from Georgia posted a photo of the Jefferson Davis memorial site, noting on Facebook, "This is our history. #DealWithIt"

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State Rep. Jason Spencer posted the photos on his personal Facebook page, as a nationwide debate over Confederate statues and memorials continues. The issue has come to the forefront after a violent white supremacist rally over a statue of Robert E. Lee took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this month.

LaDawn Jones, a former Democratic state representative and now an attorney in Atlanta, began commenting on Spencer's photos.

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Jones argued to Spencer that the statues won’t be around forever and that “progress is not on your side.” The lengthy conversation moved to the topic of black struggles in the South.

Spencer and Jones sat next to each other in the chamber during Jones' tenure, from 2012 to 2016.

“He and I have often had very deep, uncomfortable conversations related to policies that were and were not race related," Jones told BuzzFeed News.

Jones and Spencer then engaged in a back-and-forth. At one point, Spencer told Jones that if those who wanted Confederate statues removed tried to do so in southern Georgia, they "won’t be met with torches but something a lot more definitive. People in South Georgia are people of action, not drama.”

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“You got that right. They will go missing in the Okefenokee. Too many necks they are red around here. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about them,” Spencer said in a separate response to a man’s comment that Atlanta is not representative of Georgia. Spencer's post has since been deleted.

BuzzFeed News has reached out to Spencer for comment.

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Jones told BuzzFeed News that she didn't personally feel threatened, but felt his statements "crossed the line."

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Spencer told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution his comments weren’t meant as a threat but a “warning to her of how people can behave about this issue.”

“Just trying to keep her safe if she decided to come down and raise hell about the memorial in the back yards of folks who will see this as an unwelcome aggression from the left,” Spencer added to AJC.

Jones told BuzzFeed News she did not feel personally threatened by Spencer because of their past discussing sensitive topics, but that she found his response "concerning."

“I do think his statements crossed the line,” Jones said. “What it indicates to people is that if you disagree with me...then the appropriate response would be criminal.”

“The way that he said it almost sounded like he sort of approved of that response."

Here's Spencer with a statue of Martin Luther King Jr. he also posted on Monday. AJC reported Spencer asked the outlet to include in its story.

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“There’s some people who wouldn’t even dare” take a pic with Martin Luther King Jr., Jones said of Spencer.

“Even him, despite his rhetoric, can have his heart changed on these very sensitive issues," Jones said, adding she thinks this is an opportunity people can look at about having a discussion on race.

“There’s a bigger issue that I want folks to get: The discussion on race in our state and our country that it’s not done," Jones said.

Last year, Spencer caught heat for introducing legislation that would prevent Muslim women from wearing a burqa or face veil while driving or in their license photos.

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He ultimately withdrew it. CNN reported the statute he wanted to amend to include burquas was intended to ban hoods and robes used by the KKK.

“While this bill does not contain language that specifically targets any group, I am mindful of the perception that it has created. My objective was to address radical elements that could pose a threat to public safety,” Spencer said in a statement on his official Facebook page. "However, further consideration dictates that other solutions will need to be considered."

Lissandra Villa is a politics reporter with BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Lissandra Villa at lissandra.villahuerta@buzzfeed.com.

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