A DeSoto County lawmaker apologized Tuesday for saying that in the town where he used to be mayor, "all the blacks are getting food stamps and what I call 'welfare crazy checks.'
Rep. Gene Alday, R-Walls, delivered his apology in a 30-second speech to the Mississippi House of Representatives.
"I'm deeply sorry for my recent statements. I was wrong to say what I did, and there is no excuse for my behavior," Alday said. "I value the relationships I have made with everyone in this House. I am so sorry. I made a great mistake, and I appreciate every one of you."
House members gave Alday polite applause after he spoke, and he then left the floor of the House.
The muted reaction contrasted to the backlash he received Monday, a day after The Clarion-Ledger newspaper published the story with his comments about Walls, the town where Alday was police chief and mayor before being elected to the House in 2011.
"I come from a town where all the blacks are getting food stamps and what I call 'welfare crazy checks.' They don't work," Alday was quoted by the Jackson newspaper as saying.
In the same article, he said that once when he went to a hospital emergency room for pain, "I liked to died. I laid in there for hours because they (blacks) were in there being treated for gunshots."
Gov. Phil Bryant and House Speaker Philip Gunn issued statements Monday condemning the remarks as racist. That same day, Alday said he had not intended the remarks to be published and bears no ill will toward any race, citing past actions he said he himself has taken to help black people. He said he will seek re-election and is rejecting calls for his resignation.
Robert Johnson III, D-Natchez, led a news conference Monday voicing concerns that Alday's comments could indicate racial motivations behind some policy decisions. Johnson, who is black, said Tuesday that he accepted the apology.
"I take the man at his word. I'm sure he's regretful about his comments," Johnson said. "But we are more interested in his actions. Our concern continues to be that Mr. Alday may have pulled the cover off an undertow here at the Legislature, when you look at the policies we are passing and the policies we aren't passing."
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