Republican state senator uses Hitler as inspiration in message to homeless

District 8 Sen. Frank Niceley compared Adolf Hitler’s experience with homelessness to the struggles of Tennesseans. (Source: WVLT)
Published: Apr. 15, 2022 at 8:26 PM EDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/Gray News) - Recent comments made by a Tennessee state senator when lawmakers were discussing a homeless bill are raising some eyebrows.

WVLT reports Sen. Frank Niceley said that homeless people could aspire to not just find a home but also lead historic lives by comparing them to the life experiences of Adolf Hitler.

“I haven’t given you all a history lesson in a while, and I wanted to give you a little history on homelessness,” Niceley said. “Hitler decided to live on the streets for a while. So for two years, Hitler lived on the streets and practiced how to connect with the masses and then went on to lead a life that got him in the history books.”

Niceley made the comments while other state leaders were debating a bill that would classify camping on public property as a misdemeanor in Tennessee.

Bryan Goldberg, with the Knoxville Jewish Alliance, said Niceley’s comments were insensitive and released the following statement:

“As a Jewish leader in East Tennessee, it deeply saddens me to have read the comments Sen. Niceley chose to make on the Senate floor in our state capitol building yesterday. I’ll admit I do not know Sen. Niceley personally, however, I would hope that he realizes his comments were amazingly inappropriate. It is beyond time that all politicians stop using references to Hitler, Nazi Germany and the Holocaust to make comparisons to modern-day events. His comments were not only deeply insensitive to the Jewish community of Tennessee, but also to the individuals that work tirelessly to help the homeless in our communities and completely disrespectful to the homeless people suffering on our streets. No one chooses to be homeless as many are affected by mental illness. To make a comparison to a complete sociopath who performed horrors to our world is simply wrong and below the elected position Sen. Niceley holds.”

Niceley supported the bill, which criminalizes homelessness by making homeless camps near interstates, on-ramps and exit ramps a class C misdemeanor. He said he believed homeless people could still lead productive lives.

“It’s not a dead end. They can come out of these homeless camps and have a productive life,” Niceley said.

The bill passed and is headed to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s desk for approval.

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