In a warning to homeless people on Wednesday, a Republican state senator from Tennessee referenced Adolf Hitler, as he debated a bill that would threaten felony charges for those who camp on public property.
Frank Niceley gave a “history lesson” to his Senate colleagues during his address, citing Hitler as an example of a former destitute person who turned his life around.
“In 1910, Hitler decided to live on the streets for a while,” he explained. “So for two years, Hitler lived on the streets and practiced his oratory and his body language and how to connect with the masses, and then went on to lead a life that’s got him into history books.”
It’s not a “dead-end” according to Niceley, for homeless persons in Tennessee. “They can come out of this, these homeless camps, and have a productive life, or in Hitler’s case, a very unproductive life,” he added.
Niceley’s office was contacted by CBS News through email and phone for more information about his views, but no response was received. His remarks received fire for invoking Adolf Hitler, the Nazi commander who oversaw the mass murder of Jews across Europe.
Gloria Johnson, a Democrat from Tennessee, posted a video of his remarks and stated that she will “have to apologize to the universe for this guy.”
Niceley isn’t the only person to make controversial remarks in public. During a speech last year, he stated that the Civil War was still going on and that “we’re winning.”
On Wednesday, the Tennessee Senate passed the bill he was discussing. Last year, the state’s House of Representatives passed a version of the bill. Before being signed into law, both Republican-controlled chambers must iron out discrepancies in what they authorized.
The bill threatens criminal charges for homeless persons who camp on public property, including parks, as well as misdemeanor charges for camping near roadways. The crime carries a maximum sentence of six years in jail.
In Tennessee, felony convictions result in the loss of a person’s right to vote.