Crime /

Tennessee State Rep. Suggests ‘Hanging By a Tree’ as Method of Executing Death Row Inmates

Tennessee State Rep. Paul Sherrell has suggested executing death row inmates by hanging them from a tree.

The lawmaker suggested the method during a House Criminal Justice Committee meeting where a bill amendment was being discussed that would allow execution by firing squad.

Sherrell, who supports the amendment, said, “Could I put an amendment on that it would include hanging by a tree, also?”

The comment did not appear to raise any eyebrows among the committee at the time, but the NAACP was quick to jump on it.

Gloria Sweet-Love, President of the Tennessee State Conference of the NAACP, told Nashville’s News Channel 5 that “Representative Sherrell’s comment is beyond disgusting. He is celebrating a particular form of execution used against African Americans in Tennessee and across the nation, including innocent and wrongfully convicted persons.”

“In many parts of the South, lynchings took place in nearly every county as it exemplified racialized and anti-Black violence,” Sweet-Love continued. “We know from numerous research studies that Blacks are also disproportionately executed, especially when the alleged victim is White. Sherrell’s comment–with reference to the most detested form of racialized violence–appears to be tinged race. It is a sad day in Tennessee politics when a lawmaker publicly announces that he wants to resurrect the lynching tree. We demand an apology from Representative Sherrill and ask the House leadership to condemn statements advocating racialized violence.”

An activist from the “Tennessee Holler” confronted Rep. Sherrell about his comments on Wednesday, claiming he was calling for racist hate crimes with his suggestion.

The hyperbolic confrontation by the activist was laughed off by Rep. Sherell, who seemed entirely unbothered.

In a statement released by the House Republican Caucus on Wednesday, Sherrell apologized for his suggestion.

“My exaggerated comments were intended to convey my belief that for the cruelest and most heinous crimes, a just society requires the death penalty in kind,” Sherell said.

“Although a victim’s family cannot be restored when an execution is carried out, a lesser punishment undermines the value we place on protecting life. My intention was to express my support of families who often wait decades for justice. I sincerely apologize to anyone who may have been hurt or offended.”

Sherrell previously sparked outrage among the left for introducing a bill that sought to change John Lewis Way to Trump Blvd.

In February, it was reported that former President Donald Trump wants to bring back firing squads, possibly even hangings, and televise executions.

Trump Wants to Bring Back Firing Squads — Possibly Guillotines — and Televise Executions, According to New Report

In an article for Rolling Stone, writers Asawin Suebsaeng and Patrick Reis cite three anonymous “close associates” of Trump, who claim that he asked them, “WHAT DO YOU think of firing squads?”

“Specifically, Trump has talked about bringing back death by firing squad, by hanging, and, according to two of the sources, possibly even by guillotine,” the article states. “He has also, sources say, discussed group executions. Trump has floated these ideas while discussing planned campaign rhetoric and policy desires, as well as his disdain for President Biden’s approach to crime.”

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