Newton County Commissioner John Douglas faced blistering criticism Tuesday night from angry members of the public over a racist, sexist comment he wrote on Facebook, with many calling for his resignation.
Douglas wrote, and then deleted, a comment calling a black woman who was abusing the American flag as a form of political protest a “cheap street walker knee grow who lays down for white men.”
Douglas apologized once more at Tuesday's Board of Commissioners meeting, calling his comment “disgusting” and “beneath the dignity of this county, my family, and me.”
He also attempted to quell the outrage by giving examples of his warm personal and professional relationships with black men and women during his time in the military and as representative in the Georgia General Assembly.
"I was the only Republican senator with an African American assistant," he said.
While some stood by Douglas, the vast majority of speakers said his apology did not go far enough, or that regardless of his apology, he should face the consequences of his actions.
Christine Young-Brown, President of the Newton/Rockdale chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said that she would “accept nothing less” than his resignation.
“We’re not 40 years East of Atlanta; we are 40 miles East of Atlanta and we need to be representative of that,” she said.
Thelma Stark told Douglas, “I forgive you, but I think you should step down.”
Debbie Hillman said she was even more insulted by Douglas’ apologies than she was by his original comment. She also reminded Douglas of the ugly history of sexual violence towards black women that his comment evoked.
“We didn’t choose to lay down with white men,” she said with emotion.
She was not the only one to take issue with Douglas’ apology.
“I didn’t think that I could feel more disrespected by your comments, but then when I come here and you give me these petty stories of how you helped black people in the past, I feel even more disrespected,” said Jeffrey Johnson. “Please don’t insult my intelligence by telling me you gave handouts to black people and ‘it’s ok if I say these things, please disregard what I said’.”
Several local officials, including Almond Turner and Shakila Henderson-Baker of the Newton County Board of Educaiton, and Janet Goodman and Hawnethia Williams of the Covington City Council, also turned out to express their disappointment in Douglas.
Douglas’ fellow commissioners made their displeasure known, but only District 2 Commissioner Lanier Sims called for Douglas’ immediate resignation.
“Commissioner, if you love this county, you will step down,” said Sims.
District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz told Douglas that his comments “cast a dark shadow on Newton County and cannot be tolerated.”
She said that if he could not “consistently demonstrate” that his comment was not reflective of his attitude toward women and people of color, then he should step down.
District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson said he would not judge Douglas, while District 5 Commissioner Levie Maddox said he hoped Douglas took the lesson to heart and will be “a better man.”
Chairman Keith Ellis said he hoped the episode was over.
But some have committed to continuing the pressure until Douglas steps down.
The Rockdale-Newton Section of the National Council of Negro Women issued a statement following the meeting, reiterating the organization’s dissatisfaction with Douglas’ apology.
“…in 2015 it is horrific to think that a man of Mr. Douglas’ exposure would “lose” his self-control and cause us to reach back to a time that is so unpleasant for both our country and Newton County,” the statement said. “His behavior, in his own words, deserves the most severe consequences, which we feel is to lose his job.”