Alabama's Legislature: Fight Breaks Out On Senate Floor
Warning: This story does contain an obscenity from a state senator.
You might say this year's regular legislative session will be known for politics, a pay raise, and a punch.
Republicans and Democrats have been at each others throats in the senate all session long, but they did pass themselves a pay raise. Then on Thursday, tensions escalated when violence broke out between two senators right on the State Senate floor.
So how did the fight get started? It began as the dispute between the minority group that is mostly made up of Republicans, and the majority group of 18 Democrats continued. So tempers could calm down and the senators could regroup they voted to take a recess, but that when the emotions flared.
Republican Senator Charles Bishop tells our news partner WSFA, that, "He (Senator Lowell Barron) called me a son of the b****. Where I grew up that is somebody talking bad about your mother and when he did I responded with my right hand, and from that point on I don't know what happened because people grabbed me and I turned around and walked off."
Alabama Public Television was in the Senate when the violence broke out. In the video, you can see Senator Bishop and Senator Barron in a heated discussion. Then in the video, you can see Senator Bishop hit Senator Barron. Security and other senators rushed in and pulled Senator Bishop away, and afterwards Bishop had only one regret. He adds, "No I'm not apologizing for that at all. I'll apologize for it happening out here. I'm sorry." When asked what he was apoligizing for, Senator Bishop responded, "I'm not apologizing... if he calls me that again it'll happen again."
Senator Lowell Barron says Bishop hit him on the neck and it was a hard punch. He says, "He used real provocative language at me and I did not call him what he said I did." After the fight, Democratic senators met and they asked the Senate to expel Bishop for the rest of the session, when ended on Thursday.
The fight frightened some members of the Senate. Democratic Senator Vivian Figures of Mobile says, "I do fear for my safety here in this body and I should feel safe when I come here." Republican Senator says, "I am not going to lay the blame on Senator Bishop because it is been going on both sides and there has been back stabbing. There has been what I call abusive language on both sides."
The senators did not end up having to vote on expelling Senator Bishop from the Senate on the last day. He left on his own saying he would not be back. The Democratic senators are also asking the ethics committee of the Senate to investigate the incident and to take appropriate action.
Senator Lowell Barron was also asked if he's planning to file assault charges against Bishop. Barron says he will have to think about it.
WSFA Reporter: Eileen Jones