A Washington state mayor has refused to resign after coming under fire for calling first lady Michelle Obama “Gorilla face” on Facebook. The Airway Heights City Council asked Mayor Patrick Rushing to step down following the incident, though Rushing said he would not.
“I made a mistake. I owned up to my mistake,” Rushing said. “If I do resign that’s admitting I’m a racist and I’m not,” the Spokesman-Review reported Tuesday. “I will not step down. But I will do everything I can to turn the tide around,” the mayor said, as reported by KHQ-TV, an NBC affiliate in Spokane, Washington.
Deputy Mayor Kevin Richey first became aware of the comments July 10 and reported them to City Manager Albert Tripp, the Spokesman-Review reported. The full comment from Rushing’s Facebook post was reported by KHQ as saying: “Gorilla face Michelle, can’t disagree with that. The woman is not attractive except to monkey man Barack. Check out them ears. LOL.”
Many members of the Airway Heights community were outraged by the comments, calling them racist for referring to the president and first lady as sub-humans.
“It’s just playful back and forth banter that my friends and I do,” said Rushing when he was asked to respond to the comments.
Deputy City Manager and Police Chief Lee Bennett said he was very disappointed by Rushing’s remarks. In response to the mayor’s claim that he wasn’t being racist, Bennett said: “I can tell you that in the matter of public opinion they were racist (comments). When you become a public figure I’m no longer Lee Bennett, citizen. I’m Police Chief Bennett,” the Spokesman-Review reported.
The City Council voted 5-1 in favor of asking Rushing to resign. However, because Rushing was elected, the City Council cannot force him to resign.
Since press time more of the Mayors Facebook posts have been uncovered. Read about it now.