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GOP Wyoming Lawmaker Apologizes For Tweeting Racist GIF To State's First Black Sheriff

GOP Wyoming Lawmaker Apologizes For Tweeting Racist GIF To State's First Black Sheriff

Wyoming Republican state Representative Cyrus Western (R-Sheridan) issued the standard apology after a tweet with racist connotations.

The (now deleted) tweet was Western's attempt at noting Albany County Sheriff Aaron Appelhans became Wyoming's first Black sheriff.

What was the tweet in question?

Western decided—rather than a simple tweet noting the historic moment or sharing congratulations—to post a GIF from Mel Brooks' Western satire film Blazing Saddles depicting actor Cleavon Little—who played sheriff Bart—asking "Where the White women at?" in a scene depicting him luring members of the KKK into a trap.

The connotation from the film played off White supremacist propaganda and rhetoric that claimed Black men were a danger to the virtue of White women. The perpetuation of the rhetoric led to the murders of many Black males like Emmett Till.

After a slew of criticism Western deleted the tweet and posted an apology—per usual including a defense any harm was unintended—on the platform.

He wrote:

"I'd like to issue a retraction. My remark about the new Albany Sheriff was dumb and uncalled for."
"What I did was insensitive, and, while unintended, I recognize that it was wrong. I hope he accepts my apology."

In an interview with The Casper Star-Tribune Western said:

"It was stupid, and I wasn't really thinking. It was a reference to an old comedy satire movie where an African American sheriff moves to a Western town and breaks down norms."
"That was the sentiment, there was never any kind of malice or anything, and it was only afterwards I realized that it was really dumb."

However there are other scenes in the film which better exemplify Western's claimed intent.

Sheriff Appelhans confirmed to the Casper Star-Tribune on Wednesday Western called him to apologize for the choice of GIF.

Appelhans said of his conversation with the Representative:

"We definitely had a conversation about—how do I say it—his tweet and the connotations of it as well, racist connotations."
"He was apologetic and we had a conversation about being a politician and making sure you're representing the people who elected you to office. Just on a broader scale, knowing he represents a portion of the state, he also represents the state as well."

Regardless of the expressed ignorance by Western, after speaking with him Appelhans stated (he) "definitely knows what he did was wrong."

He continued:

"And there's a potential for us to cross paths with both of our positions and law enforcement working on some of the bills that are gonna be in the state Legislature,"
"I basically told him I have expectations for him and I'm looking forward to him meeting those expectations and be better."

Twitter users weren't buying the reactive apology.

It is elected officials responsibility to serve and support their constituents equally. Hopefully Western learns from this experience and can better represent all of his state's citizens in the future.