Goodloe Sutton, the publisher of the Democrat-Reporter in the west-central Alabama town of Linden, confirmed to the Advertiser he wrote the Feb. 14 editorial that suggested the Klan “would be welcome to raid the gated communities up there.”
"If we could get the Klan to go up there and clean out D.C., we'd all been better off," Sutton told the Advertiser.
Asked to clarify what he meant about "cleaning up" Washington, Sutton told the Advertiser, "We'll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them."
The weekly newspaper's editorial suggested the white supremacist hate group should return because "Democrats in the Republican Party and Democrats are plotting to raise taxes in Alabama," the Advertiser reported.
Several legislators, including U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., and Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., called for Sutton's resignation, AL.com reported.
"OMG! What rock did this guy crawl out from under? Jones tweeted. "This editorial is absolutely disgusting & he should resign -- NOW!"
"These comments are deeply offensive and inappropriate, especially in 2019," Sewell tweeted. "Mr. Sutton should apologize and resign."
The Sutton family has owned Democrat-Reporter since 1917, and Goodloe Sutton has worked at the newspaper since 1964, AL.com reported.
The newspaper has received several journalism awards, including the Society of Professional Journalists Sunshine Award and the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award, the website reported. The newspaper's stories on corruption at the Marengo County Sheriff's Department led to an FBI investigation that resulted in the conviction of Sheriff Roger Davis.
A congressional citation read on the floor of the House of Representatives in 1998 lauded Sutton's "truly American heroism and dedication to the truth" and called him "one of Alabama's finest and most ethical journalists," The Washington Post reported.
In 2007, Sutton and his wife, Jean Sutton, who died in 2003, were inducted into the University of Southern Mississippi Mass Communications and Journalism Hall of Fame, AL.com reported. Two years later, the Suttons received the Distinguished Alabama Community Journalist award from Auburn University, the website reported.
Sutton refuted the notion that the KKK was a racist and violent organization, comparing it to the NAACP, the Advertiser reported.
"A violent organization? Well, they didn't kill but a few people," Sutton told the newspaper. "The Klan wasn't violent until they needed to be."
Sutton said he welcomed any letters or telephone calls and said people were free to boycott him, the Advertiser reported.