Texas Judge James Oakley is under fire for a comment he made on Facebook stating that a black man who was arrested on suspicion of killing a police officer should be lynched. Oakley has since apologized for his insensitive comment and claims that it wasn't about the man's race.
"Time for a rope," wrote the Texas judge on social media last week, according to the Huffington Post.
Texas judge James Oakley wrote, "time for a tree and a rope," on Facebook in response to the arrest of a suspect in a policeman murder case. pic.twitter.com/5TaRej6vYk
— Right Wing Talk (@RWTQuotes) November 24, 2016
Just days after making the offensive statement, Oakley apologized and claimed that he didn't mean to offend anyone. He referred to the language he used in the rant as "unfortunate" and said it wasn't meant to be racist.
"I never made that connection but I do see how somebody could make that connection and be offended towards that. That was not my intent," Oakley told the Huffington Post. "Maybe I watched too many Westerns when I was little."
Judge James Oakley has since removed the offensive post but screenshots were taken and his comments will never just vanish. Raw Story published a copy of the screenshot for those who might want to see it for themselves. Oakley shared the mugshot of suspect Otis Tyrone McKane, who was accused of shooting a local police officer. After several others commented on it, Oakley added his inflammatory two cents, and it took 13 hours before another commentator spoke up about how offensive his statement was.
Judge James Oakley typed "Time for a tree and a rope" under the mugshot of accused cop-killer Otis Tyree McKane, 31 pic.twitter.com/i5Hf5QB1ba
— kareem Lumumba (@KareemLumumba) November 24, 2016
"VERY inappropriate remark. I'm as angry as anyone but for you to use FB [Facebook] to flaunt your opinion as an elected official in such a foul manner is disgusting. Lost my further support," wrote David Friedman.
"What I should have posted, if anything, is a comment that more clearly reflects my opinion on the cowardly crime of the senseless murder of a law enforcement officer. My view of the 'suspect,' whom has admitted to the murder, is the same regardless of ethnicity or gender," Oakley said in a written statement.
The initial post was about the shooting of San Antonio police detective Ben Marconi on the Sunday prior. McKane's case made headlines because of its unusual nature. According to My San Antonio, McKane is accused of ambushing and shooting Marconi while he sat in his patrol car.
Exclusive: Accused cop killer Otis McKane married in San Antonio after ambush, before arrest https://t.co/GCehcoQisu via @mySA
— Michael W. Krohmer (@1Krohmer13) November 24, 2016
Otis McKane was arrested for the murder of Ben Marconi the very next day, but not until he got married. Just seven hours before his arrest, McKane was at the Bexar County courthouse with his girlfriend Christian Chanel Fields obtaining a wedding license. He was driving Fields' white Buick when he was arrested.
Judge James Oakley may be getting reprimanded for his lynching comments, according to KVUE. In addition to his role as the Burney County Judge, Oakley also serves as the Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) Board of Directors.
Otis McKane was at courthouse day after San Antonio shooting https://t.co/ERRx6i4ES5
— 100.7 WFLA (@WFLAFM) November 23, 2016
The PEC called a special meeting on November 30 to discuss Judge Oakley's comments and to decide if he would be punished for the inappropriate remark. During that meeting, Oakley apologized again for the comment and tried to explain it away.
"My point was in the comment, this crime should qualify for the death penalty, that's what I was trying to say. I did a poor job saying it and I understand that and I apologize for that. I apologized then and I apologize now. It was poor word choice. I own that," Oakley said.
After Oakley addressed the crowd, the PEC members, employees, and the public had a chance to speak. Many who spoke out against Judge James Oakley made it clear that they want him removed from the board. Others spoke out in defense of Oakley, stating that he used a poor choice of words but that he shouldn't be removed for it.
— Lead with Compassion (@GloriaGoogleInc) November 24, 2016
"Time for a tree and a rope. For crying out loud I think we all know what that means. We're going to lynch someone," said Thomas Mitchell "Apparently Mr. Oakley doesn't understand or chooses to ignore the rule of law, due process and the fact that people are innocent until proven guilty."
After the meeting was over, the PEC decided to appoint a complaint committee to determine if Oakley's Facebook comments were punishable based on their current policy. The committee will make a recommendation to the board on December 9. The board will vote on whether or not Judge James Oakley will be punished for his comments when they meet again on January 17.
[Featured Image by Burnet County Texas]