Montgomery, Alabama: Elecia Dexter, an African-American woman will replace the editor of an Alabama newspaper who came under fire last week after calling for mass lynchings of Democrats.
Elecia Dexter, 46, will take over as the Democrat-Reporter’s editor and publisher, “moving the paper into a new direction”, the paper said on Thursday.
Longtime editor Goodloe Sutton, who made the comments about raiding Washington DC, still owns the paper.
Alabama lawmakers applauded Sutton’s departure and replacement.
“The Democrat-Reporter has provided the community of West Alabama with quality news for over 140 years and you may have full confidence that Ms Dexter will continue in this tradition as well as moving the paper into a new direction,” the newspaper said in a statement to US media.
The announcement noted Dexter was entering her role “at a pivotal” and “challenging” time.
It added that the newspaper had always been devoted to “integrity and excellence in journalism” under the leadership of Sutton and his wife, Jean.
However, there was no apology from Sutton for his 14 February “Klan needs to ride again” article.
The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is one of the oldest white supremacy groups in the US, formed just after the Civil War.
The group was behind many of the lynchings, rapes and violent attacks on African Americans in the 1900s, and there are still some 5,000 to 8,000 members across the country, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Sutton had called for the KKK to raid gated communities in Washington DC in retaliation for Democrats proposing higher taxes, and later insisted he only wanted to hang “socialist-communists”.
The op-ed went viral last week, receiving nationwide condemnation, but it was not the first time Sutton published racist opinion pieces in his paper.
In 2017, an anonymous editorial discussing the topic of NFL players kneeling in protest of racism said: “That’s what black folks were taught to do two hundreds years ago, kneel before a white man…Let them kneel!”
Alabama lawmakers who had called for Sutton to step down were pleased at Dexter’s appointment to the position.
Senator Doug Jones tweeted: “Good riddance Goodloe.”
Doug Jones @DougJones: Good riddance Goodloe. His dangerous views do not represent Alabama or the small-town papers in Alabama that do great work every day. The good people of Linden deserve so much better than these racist rants and I am confident they will get it with new editor, Elecia Dexter.
But Representative Terri Sewell also called on Sutton to clearly apologise for the article.
Rep. Terri A. Sewell @RepTerriSewell: Mr. Sutton has made a lot of poor decisions, but stepping down is the right thing to do. Now, he must apologize.
Dexter, who holds degrees in speech communication, counselling and human services, told reporters she has only been working at the paper for six weeks.
She was also the one fielding many of the angry responses to Sutton’s article, and had considered quitting.
The new editor said she had an “open and honest” discussion with Sutton about his editorial before taking on the role.
As editor and publisher, she told the Post she wants her community to “feel like it’s their paper, which it is”.
“One thing that sticks out to me as we move forward is making sure the people of this community feel this paper represents them and their views.”