Sutton, 80, retired on July 1. His departure was announced in a story published in Thursday’s edition of the small-town weekly located in the West Alabama community of Linden.
The Democrat-Reporter made national headlines earlier this year when Sutton wrote a February 14 editorial calling for the KKK to deal with Democrats and centrist Republicans in Washington.
“If we could get the Klan to go up there and clean out D.C., we’d all been better off,” Sutton penned.
The editorial featured the headline “Klan needs to ride again,” and was published without a byline. Sutton later confirmed he wrote the piece.
In a subsequent interview with the Montgomery Advertiser, Sutton was asked to explain what he meant by cleaning out D.C. He ignited more controversy by suggesting lynching.
“We’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them,” he stated.
When the Advertiser reminded him that the KKK was a racist and violent organization, he disagreed.
“A violent organization? Well, they didn’t kill but a few people,” Sutton said. “The Klan wasn’t violent until they needed to be.”
Sutton and his wife, Jean, won national praise in the 1990s for reporting on local corruption. Their work was featured in stories by The New York Times and Reader’s Digest.
The longtime publisher began working at the paper in 1964 and later inherited it from his father.