Sen. Summerville remains unapologetic; makes obscene gesture - WKRN News 2

Sen. Summerville remains unapologetic; makes obscene gesture

Posted: Updated: Aug 24, 2012 04:56 PM CDT
DICKSON, Tenn. -

A Tennessee state senator made an obscene gesture at a Nashville's News 2 crew Friday after he remained unapologetic about profane comments directed at the Legislative Black Caucus.

On the streets of his hometown of Dickson Friday morning, Republican State Sen. Jim Summerville of Dickson told News 2 that he "stands by his words," that were sent in an email sent to African American lawmaker Barbara Cooper in which he wrote, "I don't give a rat's a#$ what the black caucus thinks."

When asked if he thought an apology was needed because of his words, the senator said, "I mean them, end of story."

Sen. Summerville then walked into a store before eventually going to his car.

As he drove by, while News 2 was talking to one of Summerville's constituents, the senator made an obscene gesture with one of his hands.

Barbara Long saw it.

"He shot a bird at you, you know the finger signal? Not a good one," said the Dickson resident with astonishment to News 2.

It's not clear exactly what generated the August 22 email about the Black Caucus, but Sen. Summerville recently chaired a Senate Education Sub Committee which looked into grade issues at historically-black Tennessee State University.

On Thursday, the first-term Dickson lawmaker was stripped of his chairmanship of that committee.  Friday, he sent a handwritten letter to Education Chair Delores Gresham saying, "Please accept this letter as confirmation of my resignation from this committee."

When asked about being stripped by his fellow Republicans of the sub committee chair, Sen. Summerville replied, "their loss."

The senator is also a part-time language and English instructor at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville.

A spokesperson there did not want to comment on the senator's words saying he made them in his role as a lawmaker.

Summerville narrowly beat long-time incumbent Democratic Senator Doug Jackson for the state Senate seat in 2010.

News 2 has learned that State Senator Kerry Roberts, who was drawn into Summerville's district during redistricting, plans to challenge his fellow Republican during the 2014 party primary for the seat.

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