A white Tennessee lawmaker has apologized for an offensive remark made toward his black colleague. Rep. Mike Carter made a comment that was caught on video during a session of the Tennessee House while trying to get the attention of Rep. Joe Towns, Jr.
The clip was shared by Tennessean reporter Joel Ebert on Twitter, which showed Carter's remark in full. "He's gonna need the secret formula to Kentucky Fried Chicken... he's pretty concentrated on that," the Representative said, after trying to get Towns' attention. The remark drew a significant amount of criticism after circulating, given the obvious racist implication of the comment. WATE also reported that Carter later apologized to Towns on Monday.
"I am extremely sorry that an offhand attempt at humor hurt your feelings," Carter said on the House floor Monday. "I deeply regret those remarks and now I ask for your forgiveness." Towns replied that he appreciated Carter "being man enough to come before this body," adding that "this is exactly how you rectify certain things." He went on to remark that Monday was "a topsy-turvy kind of day," before commenting on larger issues across the country. "There's so much going on in this country. It's very critical that we have to mind our words."
Carter also stated that he would try and work together to help "any issues of racial reconciliation." The outlet also reports that the exchange also drew criticism from other black lawmakers, citing the ongoing protests in the wake of George Floyd's death calling for widespread police reform and an end to police brutality.
Floyd was arrested and later killed by officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, following allegations he'd tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill at a local grocery store. Four officers responded, while one, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee against the back of Floyd's neck for well over eight minutes, killing him in the process. All four officers were fired the following day and have since been arrested.
As the protests continue, a number of local governments have been hearing calls to defund their police departments. This includes the city of Minneapolis, which has recently elected to take drastic steps in restructuring its police force.