AUBURN, Maine (AP) — A Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization is calling for the resignation of a Maine city councilor over racist remarks targeting Black people.
Councilor Leroy Walker made the remarks during a discussion about naming a pedestrian bridge in honor of John Jenkins, the first Black person to serve as a state senator in Maine. He also served as mayor of both Lewiston and Auburn.
Walker said “dark-colored people” recently breaking laws in the South “put a bad name on good people" like Jenkins, the Sun Journal reported.
Walker told the newspaper that he simply wanted fellow councilors to know that some people in the community were wary of the idea and felt it was being done to appease fast-growing communities of color. Lewiston and Auburn are both home to several thousand newcomers from Africa.
He told The Associated Press that he simply wanted councilors to understand that there were different views in the community.
“I'm not a racist in any way,” he said.
Walker ended the interview after saying he and Jenkins had been friends.
He didn't address the call from the Council on American-Islamic Relations for him to resign.
“When any national, state or local official exhibits racist views, it is an indication that he or she cannot equitably represent a diverse community,” Ismail Allison, a CAIR official, said in a statement.
Councilor Katie Boss told the Sun Journal that the episode highlighted the need for more discussion about diversity, equity and inclusion, and she urged officials to take steps to embrace efforts to combat racism.