Maine City Councilor Apologizes For Racist Comments

AUBURN, Maine (AP) — An Auburn councilor apologized Friday after making racist remarks during a discussion of naming a footbridge for the late Mayor John Jenkins.

In a statement, Leroy Walker noted that Jenkins, who was Black, was “a good friend of mine for 40 years” and that he “meant no disrespect to him or his family.”

He said his comments during Tuesday's City Council meeting “were insensitive and inappropriate,” the Sun Journal reported.

Walker said he “will use the days and weeks ahead to speak with and seek guidance from experts in diversity and communication in order to communicate for and to my constituents more effectively.”

“I will use this time to reflect and learn from this experience,” Walker said.

Walker's apology came after a rant in which he said, among other things, that “dark-colored people” recently breaking laws in the South “put a bad name on good people” like Jenkins.

Jenkins, who died last year, was the first Black person to serve as a state senator in Maine. He also served as mayor of both Lewiston and Auburn.

Both the Auburn and Lewiston city councils denounced his comments before the councilor offered his apology. An Auburn council member, Holly Lasagna, said Friday that Walker should resign despite his apology.

A spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which called for Walker's resignation, said Friday that the organization welcomed the apology and would monitor the situation.