SALT LAKE CITY — Just hours after Los Angeles Clipper owner Donald Sterling was fined and banned from professional basketball because of racist remarks, a Utah lawmaker is under fire for his response on Twitter.
Rep. David Lifferth, who represents Eagle Mountain, tweeted Tuesday afternoon, “we should`ve known Don Sterling was a racist when he gave money to National Association for Advancement of Colored People.”
One Twitter user pressed Lifferth saying, “so you’re saying the NAACP is racist?”
Lifferth responded, “Yes, any group that tries to advance specific people based of their race is by definition racist.”
The same online user wrote back saying, “@NAACP was founded in 1909 when there was much need for help in advancement of black ppl!”
Lifferth responded, “that may be true but today we need associations that advance all people regardless of skin color.”
The Utah lawmaker’s comments went viral and ignited a social media backlash with comments such as “you should be ashamed” and “you’re an embarrassment to our elected leadership of the state of Utah.”
Lifferth was the mayor of Eagle Mountain in 2005 and was elected to the Utah House in 2013. He’s stirred the pot on Twitter before over issues such as gay rights and climate change.
Even though he knew his comments would anger many people, Lifferth told FOX 13 he speaks his mind and isn’t backing down from his comments.
“I am truly not a bigot or a racist. I love all people regardless of the color of their skin. The reason I said what I said on Twitter today (Tuesday) is because the NAACP is based on the external color of someone’s skin and we should be beyond that,” Lifferth said in a phone interview Tuesday night.
Utah GOP chairman James Evans said he wanted to take a closer look at the tweets before giving a response.
Meanwhile, Jeanetta Williams, President of the NAACP Salt Lake Branch, denounced Lifferth’s tweets.
Williams said in a statement that she is “astonished by the lack of knowledge of someone in Rep. Lifferth’s position about the NAACP. We, the NAACP Salt Lake Branch publicly extend an invitation for Rep. Lifferth to attend one of our NAACP meetings where we can educate him about our volunteer work. “the principal objectives of the association shall be to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of all citizens; to achieve equality of rights and eliminate race prejudice among the citizens of the united states; to remove all barriers of racial discrimination through democratic processes; to seek enactment and enforcement of federal, state and local laws securing civil rights; to inform the public of the adverse effects of racial discrimination and to seek its elimination; to educate persons as to their constitutional rights and to take all lawful action to secure the exercise thereof, and to take any other lawful action in furtherance of these objectives, consistent with the NAACP’s articles of incorporation and this constitution. The NAACP was founded in 1909 and is the oldest civil rights organization in the country fighting for the rights of all Americans.”