Colorado Republican Tells Lynching Joke, Defends Three-Fifths Compromise


A Republican state lawmaker in Colorado is facing backlash after comments he made from the House Floor. State Rep. Ron Hanks made a joke about lynching before he defending the Three-Fifths Compromise during a House debate about strengthening civics education in the state’s public schools. 

According to The Huffington Post, Hanks, who was reportedly among the mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6, was introduced to the floor as another lawmaker, Rep. Mike Lynch, by mistake. Hanks took the time to preface his defense of the Three-Fifths Compromise with a joke about lynching. 

“Being called Mr. Lynch might be a good thing for what I’m about to say,” he said. “No, just kidding,” he added before saying the Compromise didn’t have an impact on people’s humanity. 

The Three-Fifths Compromise was made in 1787 at the US Constitutional Convention and was the agreement reached between the North and South during the early days of the country’s founding. It counted enslaved Black people in the South as three-fifths of a person when tallying a state’s population. 

“Going back to the founding, and going back to the three-fifths, and I heard the comments and I appreciate them, and I respect them. But the Three-Fifths Compromise, of course, was an effort by non-slaves states to try to reduce the amount of representation that the slave states had,” Hanks said. “It was not impugning anybody’s humanity.” 

Hanks responded to colleagues’ dissent. “Is this really racist to be talking about what the Three-Fifths Compromise was?” 

“I don’t think so, and I think it’s important. It’s part of the civics lesson here. It was brought up, and it merits discussion.” 

State Democrats wrote a statement demanding Hanks apologize for his remarks and condemning them. They also called on Republicans to join them in publicly denouncing what was said.

“To call the comments made by Mr. Hanks today disgusting and ignorant would be a gross understatement,” Shenika Carter, chair of the African Diaspora Initiative within the Colorado Democratic Party. 

“For him to downplay the indisputable, historical fact that enslaved Black people were treated as less a person’s worth both in law and in practice is offensive and beneath the dignity of our state legislature,” Carter added. 

The Colorado Democratic Party executive director, Halisi Vinson said Hanks attempted to “whitesplain the historical experience of Black people in our country.” 

“The fact that Representative Hanks thought it would be appropriate to make a ‘joke’ about lynching –– especially at a time when we’re seeing a rise of racially motivated assaults on people of color across our country –– is utterly despicable.” 

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