WOODCREEK, Texas (KXAN) — In a recent Facebook post about race, an account belonging to the mayor of Woodcreek, Texas, in Hays County said the Black Lives Matter movement is a “threat to our lives.”
“I’m not a racist,” Mayor Gloria Whitehead said five times in a series of posts that she called a “Wake Up Message.”
“I started getting screenshots from citizens and I started looking at it and I was like, ‘Oh my God,'” says Woodcreek City Council member Brent Pulley.
“Violence toward people of color occurs statistically more toward each other than by law enforcement encounters. BLM knows this but is masquerading it’s true agenda,” Whitehead wrote.
“To use the shorthand of Facebook, ‘Oh em gee.’ Like ‘Oh, no. What is this all about? This is 2020, people, and I know this is Texas and we can be conservative and have conservative views but this is not appropriate,” says William Scheel, Woodcreek City Council member & former mayor.
In her initial Facebook post, Whitehead claimed the Black Lives Matter movement has ties to socialist groups, and later the Black Panther Party, which disbanded in 1982.
“I’ll not bow down to this insane show,” she wrote, adding, “All Lives Matter.”
“I believe her to be a bright and capable person and so this really came as a surprise to me,” Scheel says.
The comments struck a personal chord for him.
“I was arrested in Selma, I was spat on in Selma, I was called all kinds of vulgar names in Selma,” he says.
KXAN reached out to all five city council members as well as the mayor: Council members Pulley, Scheel and Aurora LeBrun all denounced the mayor’s Facebook posts.
Council member Vicki Alvord, Mayor Pro Tem Nancye Britner and Mayor Gloria Whitehead all declined to comment.
“I don’t know what the process is, this has never come up before, it’s completely new to us,” says Pulley.
He and Scheel say they don’t know yet what actions they have the authority to take against the mayor, but Pulley says there’s only one right thing to do.
“I would not only suggest for her to resign, I would vote for her to resign. And she’s a friend, it’s painful to say this. . I mean, that’s way off the charts. You’ve got to go. And you can sit at home and play on Facebook all day long but you shouldn’t do it as the mayor of this community,” Pulley says.
Posts from Mayor Gloria Whitehead’s Facebook account
After the post started getting dozens of comments, Whitehead updated it, but not to apologize. She doubled down, calling the current racial unrest a “threat to our lives.”
“I posted today…not to debate racism, but to tell my side of the story. I see BLM as a threat to our lives…obviously the physical violence is there. Obviously, from the hate responses…there must be high levels of obedience shown. Regardless, I am not a supporter of BLM. Somehow this means my story, my position, my declation that I am not a racist, makes me a racist. So Be It…” she wrote.
Whitehead said she wrote her post in part because someone vandalized her family member’s beauty salon in Wilmington, Delaware, breaking the salon’s windows.
But later, when a member of Whitehead’s family who is black confronted her, asking her to rethink what she was saying and that her comments were “disrespectful to the African American community,” Whitehead balked.
“Not one word of what I said is disrespectful,” she said, then adding for the fifth time, “I’m not a racist.”
Whitehead did respond to those who criticized her online with a second Facebook post Tuesday evening:
“Never have I ever said that Black Lives do not matter. Do not misquote me nor change the dialogue. To the contrary..All Lives Matter. AND..I AM NOT A Racist..You can call me a Racist all day long and I’ll still not bow to the BLM idealogy,” Whitehead said.
Mayor Whitehead’s initial post garnered more than 665 comments in just 11 hours. Late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, Whitehead deleted all of her posts.
The City of Woodcreek’s website includes a social media policy adopted in May 2019 that covers city council members and the mayor. Its guidelines including being transparent, accurate and respectful, It says the use of social media is “governed by freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Texas Open Meetings Act, the Public Information Act, and this policy.”
“Consider content carefully, because postings are widely accessible, subject to open records requests, not retractable, and retained or referenced for many years,” the policy states.
The Woodcreek City Council will hold its next council meeting on Wednesday, June 10 in person at 5:45 p.m. They plan to do temperature checks at the door and require face shields. The public may submit questions or comments by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on Wednesday.
Lawmaker responds to Whitehead’s post
State Rep. Erin Zwiener, D-Driftwood, said she was “alarmed and disappointed by Mayor Whitehead’s words,” adding, “Black lives matter, full stop, and every single person in power should be stepping up to make sure they’re treated as such.”