Mayor Drew Hastings said Monday that he regrets a Facebook comment he posted Friday and which he removed by Sunday morning, but not before it was noticed locally, particularly by some in the black community.
Hastings, a frequent poster on social media, was weighing in on a discussion about terrorism, race relations, and the Colorado shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility.
At one point he wrote, “When are people going to figure out that we are in a Revolution in this Country. Blacks have all but formally declared war on whites, ideological types are fighting with Planned Parenthood, there’s violence over immigration, Muslim extremism, and our own Government at war with its citizens.”
He added, “This isn’t ‘lone wolf’ stuff. It isn’t a crazy with a gun. It isn’t ‘domestic terrorism,’ these are all skirmishes in a Revolution that’s here. Pick your side and pick your battles, we are about 3 steps away from All bets are off.”
Steven Williams, an African American Hillsboro resident who ran for mayor in the Democratic primary against Pam Limes, contacted The Times-Gazette on Monday and said he had heard concerns from “members of the community both black and white.”
“What’s the story behind this?” asked Williams. “At a minimum an explanation is needed. Needless to say he has managed to upset a lot of African Americans who supported him and respected his efforts for this town.”
Williams said that while he voted for Limes in the General Election, he has “always liked and respected Drew as a person… But yes, I think he needs to explain.” Williams said Hastings’ comments had made their way into church services Sunday morning.
“The image he has with the African American community has been tarnished. He represents a town with diversity,” said Williams.
Hastings said Monday he regretted making the remarks, and decided on his own to remove them.
“A lot of online opinions and venting were going on during this Planned Parenthood shooting on Friday, which spun off into all the other ills of this country,” said Hastings. “Having too much time on my hands that day, I joined in on the venting. As most of that stuff goes, it ends up getting ratcheted up and I said something to the effect that this country’s heading toward or is in some kind of revolution.”
Hastings said he was “speaking from the national perspective, how it appears to the average person looking out on the national scene, with Isis, Muslim extremism, immigration issues and violence. I said it seems like blacks in this country have all but formally declared war on white people.”
While Hastings said he believes the nation needs a “real, honest dialogue about race,” his comments were not well thought out.
“I was definitely looking at it from a kneejerk perspective,” said Hastings. “We all are guilty of that sometimes.”
Hastings’ post garnered more than 300 “Likes” and more than 130 comments before he removed it.
“After I posted it there was some feedback. A lot of people responded positively, some didn’t,” said the mayor.
But by Saturday night, “I woke up in the middle of the night and I thought I’m the mayor of Hillsboro and frankly I represent everybody, and it would really bother me if I felt I embarrassed a citizen who felt, ‘I’m embarrassed to be represented by somebody who said that,’ or if I offended somebody, because God knows I don’t have those feelings about our community at all. I wasn’t thinking about our town and our citizens at the time. Do I think we have big problems in this country and frustrations in this country? Of course I do. Could I have been more sensitive in how I put them out? Much more so, which is why I deleted it.”
Hastings said he spoke Monday morning with an African American acquaintance who said he and his family had seen the post. He told Hastings that they knew the rhetoric did not reflect the mayor’s attitudes toward members of the local black community, said the mayor.
“I have a good relationship in this city with our black community, and I regret them feeling included in some broad, over-the-top statement I made,” said Hastings, adding, “I apologize to them.”
Informed of Hastings’ explanation, Williams said he appreciated the mayor’s apology. He said he had several interactions with Hastings during his campaign for mayor, and the Facebook comments did not reflect the person he had come to know and like.
“I think the first step was taking it down, and the fact he comes forth like this, absolutely, I accept that,” said Williams.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.