A Minnesota state representative used a racially charged epithet in a tweet he later deleted Tuesday to refer to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
"VRA majority is four accomplices to race discrimination and one Uncle Thomas," State Rep. Ryan Winkler (D) tweeted in response to the Supreme Court's decision to strike down a core provision of the Voting Rights Act.
After receiving a firestorm of negative responses to the tweet, Winkler deleted that message and apologized in further tweets, claiming that he "did not understand 'Uncle Tom' as a racist term" and that "there seems to be some debate about it."
"I intended to point out the fact that Justice Thomas had turned his back on African-American civil rights," Winkler told the Star Tribune in an interview. "I did not intend it as a racially derogatory term and I probably reacted too hastily in using a word that is very loaded. He said that he thought of the term as simply one that meant turncoat. I guess my judgment is way off."
Follow Rep. Winkler's responses to his original deleted tweet below: