Legislative Speaker Galen Hadley this morning rebuked Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha for statements he made Wednesday during legislative debate.
Chambers remained unrepentant.
Chambers grew angry during debate Wednesday on LB 586, which would have added gay, lesbian, and transgender residents to the state non-discrimination law.
Chambers objected to a call by two senators to engage in a civil, respectful debate on the highly charged issue, calling the debate the most disgusting discussion he had ever heard. Chambers called the reasoning of opponents insulting, degrading, and demeaning.
Chambers wrapped up his criticism by stating he often had to leave the legislative floor and go downstairs to his office.
“When I go downstairs, I’m listening to you all,” Chambers said during legislative debate Wednesday. “But, the reason I do it down there, if I were up here I would probably pick these books up and start throwing them around and if I was a white guy, I’d go get my semi-automatic weapon and come down here and mow everybody down.”
That statement brought a response from Speaker Hadley on Thursday morning, who told legislators that the words they use in debate matter.
“Yesterday, words that matter were used on this floor. A statement was made, if I were a white man I would have brought a semi-automatic weapon to mow everybody down,” Hadley stated. “I find those words appalling used in any context.”
Hadley said the statement was especially inappropriate in the context of multiple tragic events in the United States and around the world.
“We live in a society where men, women, children of all races, genders, ages, religions are being mowed down around the world,” Hadley said. “It has to stop. We can no longer use words to incite actions by others.”
Hadley listed a number of terrorist bombings and deadly shootings, including the recent attacks in Brussels.
“It’s time to stop the killing and start the healing,” Hadley said. “We can start by everyone using his or her words carefully.”
In response, Chambers took to the floor of the legislature and defended his statement.
“I said if I were a white man, I would get my automatic, semi-automatic weapon, come here and mow everybody down,” Chambers said in reply to Hadley. “Who in here thought that that was to be taken literally?”
Chambers noted that in most mass shootings, a white man was found to guilty.
Chambers brushed the criticism aside.
“I want one thing crystal clear, I shall continue to express myself in the way that I think is most effective for the point I am trying to make.”
AUDIO: Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha criticizes opponents of LB 586 Wednesday. [5 min.]
AUDIO: Speaker of the Legislature, Sen. Galen Hadley of Kearney, rebukes the statement made by Sen. Chambers. [2 min.]
AUDIO: Sen. Chambers responds to Speaker Hadley. [5:30]