By Sarah Fowler, Mississippi Clarion Ledger
A Mississippi sheriff made a racist remark in a text message, a public records request by a local newspaper reveals, and then, when questioned about the comment, said he was “aggravated” at the time.
The Daily Journal reported Tuesday that Sheriff Jim Johnson in August 2017 “described a local white legislator as ‘worse than a black person’ in a text to a local official.”
Johnson could not immediately be reached for comment by the Clarion Ledger on Tuesday afternoon.
The Daily Journal report comes after the newspaper recently obtained messages between Johnson and three county supervisors on the county-owned phones via a public records request. The texts date from 2017 to February.
In August 2017, Johnson sent a series of text messages to Lee County District 1 Supervisor Phil Morgan. In the texts, “Johnson complained about Tupelo state Rep. Shane Aquirre’s involvement in then-current debates about Lee County’s jail,” the paper reported.
“He’s worse than a Black person, your(sic) not going to please him,” the text read.
When questioned about the comment, Johnson, who is white, told the paper, “I was aggravated at (Aquirre),” adding, “There was probably no call for mentioning anything of race.”
Then, when the paper asked Johnson “if he believes the racist idea that Black people are difficult to please,” the sheriff responded, “I think when you play the race card, yes, it’s difficult to please some people.”
Johnson told The Daily Journal that he is not racist, saying, “God made us all the same. I don’t treat anybody any different.”
Lee County is 30 percent African American, according to the latest census data.
Johnson was first elected sheriff in 2004. A Republican, he did not face an opponent in the August primary. He’s facing a Democratic challenger, Jermandy Jackson, in the general election in November.
This article originally appeared in USA Today.