THIS IS A SCREENSHOT showing where Grady County Sheriff Harry Young conflated protesters with traitors who should be hanged. The post sparked a riot of verbal responses.
Grady County Sheriff Harry Young is defending a post he made on his personal Facebook account in early May that resurfaced over the weekend and raised the ire of many commenters, some who said it was unworthy of the county’s top elected law enforcement officer and still others who called it racist. At the center of the controversy is a meme that states, “Can we get back to the tradition of hanging traitors?”.
Young says he originally posted it as a reaction to congressional leaders in Washington, D.C. It appears the post was first made on May 8.
“That was something posted a month ago when all these people were trying to destroy America,” says Sheriff Young. “(Nancy) Pelosi, (Chuck) Schumer, guys of the F.B.I. that planted stuff that really was not even true, trying to take the president down. That’s treason.”
On Sunday, Grady County resident Laura Register put Young’s post on her Facebook page, adding to it, “I’m completely disgusted by the facebook posts of our Sheriff Harry Young. This is just one example. If you think people that don’t look like him will get a fair chance you need to think again. Silence is complicity and I won’t be silent.”
Although Register and Young are not “friends” on the social media platform, Register says someone showed her a screenshot of the post.
“Because of the times we’re in and who he is as our lead law enforcement agency for the county I felt it was imperative to share,” Register says. “I just thought he needed to be accountable for his words.”
On Sunday evening, Young shared Register’s post on his own page with the statement, “If you like destroying hard working people’s property because of one officer’s horrible decision then you are the problem.”
Register contends that comment by Sheriff Young connected his meme about hanging traitors to the protests against last week’s death of George Floyd at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer
“If he had responded differently then I think it would have died away, but it’s his response that has made it worse,” says Register of Young’s comment.
By Tuesday afternoon, nearly 300 people had commented on Young’s status update, some in support of Young and others opposed.
Register says she has since received many positive messages, including one email from an African American male who wrote to Register, “He is supposed to help everyone. I’m not sure of his agenda and I’m truly afraid to speak out. Thank you for speaking out for the voiceless.”
Young says his office employs many African Americans and says he is not racist. “I love black folks, some of my dearest friends I’ve ever had,” he said Tuesday. “People are trying to put words in people’s mouths. . .if that’s all they’ve got to do then God bless them. I’m going to stick to what I said. Somebody committing treason should be punished . . . I’m going to stand up for our constitution no matter what. If people don’t like it they’ll just have to get over it.”
Young says he is glad Derek Chauvin is facing murder and manslaughter charges in Floyd’s death, and says the three other officers on the scene should also be tried.