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White Democratic state rep actually uses N-word multiple times in confrontation with black activist — and gets 'letter of caution' from state House over slur

  Can you imagine what would happen to a white Republican elected official who uttered the N-word to a black activist during a confrontation...

 Can you imagine what would happen to a white Republican elected official who uttered the N-word to a black activist during a confrontation in a government building?

Let's see: Probably daily headlines in the national news for weeks on end, endless apologies at podiums of all shapes and sizes, social media cancellations decorated with pitchfork-shaped threats, and almost certainly outraged co-hosts on "The View."

But this is a story about a white Democratic elected official in New Hampshire who uttered the N-word to a black activist during a confrontation in a government building.

And what happened to state Rep. Nicole Klein Knight, whom the NH Journal characterized as an "outspoken progressive"? The paper said she received an official “letter of caution” from state House leadership over the slur, along with other job-related punishments.

What are the details?

“The Co-Chairs of the Speaker’s Advisory Group considered the issue and have recommended to me that a letter of caution be sent to you regarding the matter,” Republican state Speaker of the House Sherman Packard told Klein Knight in a Feb. 10 letter, the Journal said. “As Speaker, I take very seriously any conduct which adversely reflects on you as a legislator or on the General Court as a whole and, as such, concur with the Co­-Chairs’ recommendation.” 

Packard also said he was "deeply disappointed" over Klein Knight's recollection of the event, the paper said.

“One discrepancy with the reports our office has received is that you repeated the racial slur multiple times, whereas your statement suggests you said it one time. I understand you gave [the Advisory Group] assurances that you would never use such a word again. I am encouraged to hear this since a racial slur said to anyone in any circumstance is improper and reflects poorly on the New Hampshire House as a whole,” Packard wrote, according the the Journal, which indicated the above italicized words were in the original letter.

What's the background?

The paper said in a previous story that progressive activists in the black, indigenous, and people of color community accused Klein Knight of using the N-word "multiple times" on Jan. 20 in the State House while she "accosted a young, unpaid, black organizer after he testified on a bill in committee." The activist in question is 18-year-old Jonah Wheeler with the progressive group Rights and Democracy NH, the Journal said.

“Despite not using that hateful word at this young man directly, Rep. Klein Knight crossed a line in aggressively using a word with such a horrible history to intimidate a black constituent," the activists' letter continued, according to the paper. "This was only made worse when she defended her use of the word, despite his repeated asks for her to stop, and proceeded to call security on this same constituent. Not only did she verbally abuse him, but the representative put this young man’s safety at risk in a situation she started, continued, and escalated.”

Along with her "letter of caution," Klein Knight was removed from the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee and from her leadership position in the House Progressive Caucus, the Journal said.

But the paper added that some Democratic House members didn't believe Klein Knight was being treated fairly — one of them being Rep. Casey Conley who said there was “score-settling” from progressive activists.

With that, progressives accused white Democrats in the House of racism: “This situation has only revealed the depths of racism in the N.H. State House, and on all sides of the aisle,” the progressives wrote in a subsequent statement, the Journal added.

“Our statement two weeks ago uncovered and revealed how many of our supposed allies in the Democratic caucus don’t actually support BIPOC organizers in this state," the progressive activists' spokesperson, Alissandra Rodriguez-Murray, told the paper.

Apology rejected, Klein Knight hits back with anti-Semitism claims

The Journal said BIPOC progressives rejected Klein Knight's apology and accused her of trying to blame shift. Then Klein Knight posted a series of late-night tweets that the paper said hurt her own apology.

“[Nobody] reached out to me. There has been no outreach about blatant antisemitic rhetoric. I have been targeted by certain individuals who seem to think if they label me as a racist then they will get away with antisemitism. This has been the most hypocritical soap opera ever performed,” she tweeted, according to the Journal. “Continuous remarks about Jewish people and American Jews.”

The paper said Klein Knight tshut down her Twitter account a few hours later.

Rep. Rosemary Rung (D-Merrimack) — whom the Journal characterized as "another white Democrat" — mirrored in a statement Klein Knight’s claims of antisemitism inside their caucus: “She had been under immense stress from antisemitism and felt threatened by others because she is Jewish."

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