A Republican lawmaker in Georgia, who had to be removed from the House of Representatives for refusing to receive a COVID-19 test on Tuesday, compared his plight to that of the “Original 33,” the state’s first black lawmaker who was expelled from the General Assembly in 1868 only because they were black.
Rep. David Clark (R-Buford) voluntarily refused to leave the floor when asked by the House Speaker David Ralston (R-Fannin County) and was then evicted from the Chamber by a member of the Georgia State Patrol for willful violation of House Audit Rules. According to the latest house guidelines, members must be tested twice a week.
“We have one member of this panel who purposely was not tested at all at the beginning of the session, which is clearly against our testing guidelines and endangers the health of other members of this chamber. I will ask this member to be as discreet as possible to leave the chamber calmly, unless you prefer otherwise, ”said the spokesman, without mentioning Clark’s name.
“I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve been to funerals too often and tired of going to them,” he said grumpily, adding, “We’re just trying to keep people from dying. ”
This is happening on the Georgia House floor right now: pic.twitter.com/63Hae7o9rD
– Latricia Thomas (@ LatriciaTnc9) January 26, 2021
Caleb McMichenRalston’s communications director told the Atlanta Journal constitution that Clark had refused to be tested at all since the 2021 session began three weeks ago, despite the spokesman’s multiple requests to comply with safety rules. McMichen also said Clark was the only member of the chamber who was not tested at all.
After getting off the floor, Clark claimed he refused to take the tests because other Americans did not have access to the same number of tests as members of the Georgia House.
“I check my temperature when I come in, when I go into the chambers where I wear my mask, I follow the protocols they want in the chamber. But two tests a week are wrong in my opinion if teachers can’t get it and first responders can’t get it, ”a maskless Clark told reporters while he was still in the building.
“You can’t just pick the rules and decide who gets in and who doesn’t. Resumed right after the Civil War when 33 blacks were elected – Republicans – who were kicked out for their skin color, “He went on.
Clark says he won’t be tested because first responders, healthcare workers, teachers and the elderly need more testing than him. @ 11AliveNews pic.twitter.com/CQQf5o3ke3
– Joe Ripley (@ JoeRipley11) January 26, 2021
Clark was referring to the “Original 33,” the first black-elected officials in US history to be kicked out of the General Assembly during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era. The evicted lawmakers organized a march protest against the eviction, but were shot at by newly represented White Georgians as they entered the town square. 15 people were killed and more than 40 injured in the tragic incident known as the Camilla massacre.
Georgia Governor Brian KempThe Republican said lawmakers should follow applicable health guidelines to protect themselves.
“I think it’s up to everyone in the building whether you are a legislator, whether you work in the executive branch, in the media or in public. We all need to follow guidelines and best practices to keep you safe, but also to protect others from you when you are infected and asymptomatic and haven’t been caught for whatever reason, ”he said during a news conference Tuesday.
[image via AJC/YouTube screengrab, 11Alive screengrab]
Do you have a tip we should know? [email protected]