Luther Board member calls mayor, police chief by racial slur

Luther Board of Trustees member calls mayor, police chief by racial slur

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LUTHER -

A member of the Luther Board of Trustees Town Council refuses to resign after admitting to using racial slurs to describe the Mayor of Luther and the Luther Chief of Police.

"He never directly, apologized to me, the chief of the police department, nor the gentleman on the planning commission," said Cecilia Taft, Mayor of Luther.  

Trustee Gregg Atkinson apologized to the town and its citizens during the Luther's Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night for comments he made at a cafe recently.

Atkinson reportedly said "what is this town coming to today? We got a n***** mayor, n***** chief of police." He also called another city official the same name but the audio was indiscernible.

"It doesn't matter what caused me to make a racial comment, it's unacceptable," Atkinson said Tuesday night.

An attendee of the meeting said the apology wasn't enough.

"You think an apology should take care of that? Do you honestly think that? Because when you came to my house and asked my husband and our family for our vote, we had no idea you were a racist."

The attendee also said she would not accept his apology, saying he didn't have a right to sit on the board and what he said went out of style a "long time ago".

Ron Henry, the president of the Luther National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), identified himself at the meeting and asked Atkinson to resign.

"You cannot make decisions to represent the minority of this town," he said.

After Atkinson apologized again, several people in the meeting also called for his resignation, but he refused.

Henry said he would talk to an attorney to work up hate crime charges against Atkinson.

"He lost all of his credibility as a councilman," said Henry, in an interview with Fox-25.  

Henry says Luther's NAACP will meet next week to discuss possible action against Atkinson.

"This is 2013, 21st century, we need to let all that racial stuff go, and live as individuals, side by side," said Henry.

Atkinson declined an interview with Fox-25, but released a statement:

"In all honesty at the town meeting last night, I got up in front of the town, admitted I made a mistake, and apologized," said Atkinson.

Many Luther residents expressed anger over Atkinson's racist remarks Wednesday.

"He should really be ashamed of himself for doing that," said Benico Cousins, a Luther resident.

Although offended by Atkinson's remarks, Cousins does not believe Atkinson needs to step down as a trustee.  

Jeromy Franklin, another Luther resident, believes Atkinson should resign.

"If he's still sitting up there they probably should just cut him loose," said Franklin.

Brittany Reese, who also lives in Luther, says with two biracial children, she was personally offended by Atkinson's use of the n-word.

"There's no point in him being a town councilman if he's going to discriminate against one race," said Reese.

Mayor Taft says Atkinson never made racist remarks to her in the past, but says after making these remarks, she believes it's in the town's best interest for Atkinson to step down.

"I do not want to see the town go backwards, we've come too far to overcome all that," said Taft.

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