James Oakley, a judge in Burnet County, Texas, posted on social media, implying that a black suspect in a murder case should be lynched.
The San Antonio Statesman reports that Oakley commented on a post by the San Antonio Police Department stating that they had taken a black suspect into custody while investigating the murder of a police officer. Oakley commented, "Time for a tree and a rope."
What is even more disturbing is that the suspect, who seems to have admitted to the crime, hasn't even gone to trial yet. Oakley seems to have been advocating for the same unconstitutional form of "justice" as a Jim Crow-era lynch mob.
In a statement to The Huffington Post, Oakley played innocent about the implications of lynching a black man, saying "I never made that connection but I do see how somebody could make that connection and be offended towards that." He then joked, "Maybe I watched too many Westerns when I was little."
Oakley apologized in a public statement after deleting the comment, saying, "To be clear, I advocate due process," and seemingly to assure the public that his comment had no bearing on his duty as a judge, explained, "I would also point out that I am an administrative judge and do not preside over criminal court."
Oakley added that he should have better expressed how he was appalled by the crime — not the suspect's race.
“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,” he said.
The Statesman reports that the Pedernales Electric Cooperative, where Oakley is a board officer, responded to the incident, saying, "PEC does not condone any type of offensive language. Comments such as these are not a reflection of our cooperative values. We proudly welcome and serve all members."
Should any kind of judge or department of justice official be permitted to pass judgment on any legal matters after such a comment? While Oakley did apologize, it is concerning that someone with power like Oakley's, administrative or otherwise, should keep their position after this deeply concerning, racist comment.
Banner Image Credit: Facebook, Rotary Club of Burnet