Pompano Beach Commissioners Condemn Racist Claims on Facebook
by Marie Puleo, Pompano Beach News Reporter
In recent Pompano Beach City Commission meetings, Vice Mayor Barry Moss was among those condemning accusations of racism, including a flyer that had appeared on Facebook posts last month branding city officials as “racist.”
The flyer, which has a large headline that reads “Racist Leadership, City of Pompano Beach,” includes the faces of the mayor and city commissioners. The face of City Manager Greg Harrison was superimposed on a Klansmen with his hand raised in a Nazi salute. Moss felt it was “very offensive to a lot of my constituents in Palm Aire.” It also falsely inferred a connection with the Klan and Nazis.
The Facebook postings and the flyer emerged ahead of the May 28 commission meeting, which included an agenda item to consolidate three existing contracts for consulting services with RMA, the firm that previously ran the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency. A number of residents in the city’s northwest community are not in favor of RMA, because they feel not enough has been done to address issues of ‘slum and blight,’ and they are against what they perceive as a direction toward gentrification. Several members of the audience expressed their concerns about RMA. Commissioner Beverly Perkins represents the northwest community, which is in District 4, was the only commissioner to vote against the agenda item.
At that meeting, Mayor Rex Hardin addressed those accusations, “This is not a black-white issue; this is not an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ issue,” said Hardin. “That is an incorrect portrayal.” He added, “This Commission does hear everybody that speaks. We may not always agree on everything, but we honestly and genuinely are all working towards a better City of Pompano Beach.”
Last week, after receiving phone calls and messages concerning the flyer, Perkins, who is the sole African-American on the commission, penned a commentary condemning it that appeared in the Pelican.
She wrote: “I believe in the First Amendment and doctrines of freedom of speech, however, this type of derogatory rhetoric does nothing to promote harmony and goodwill among the people of Pompano Beach.”
Perkins also said, “historically, the residents of northwest Pompano [Beach] strongly believe they are not acknowledged or respected at times, and are very concerned about the future direction of District 4. I am committed to continuing to be the voice for my community and trying to bridge the divide that is moving further apart.”
Perkins concluded by saying: “I believe we would be wise to use thoughtful dialogue and use workable solutions to defuse tension.”
Vice Mayor Moss thanked Perkins at this week’s commission meeting for writing the commentary. He said he wanted to present the issue at the meeting because he had been asked about it by a number of people who aren’t on Facebook.
“I’m hoping that, as we go forward, we can turn down the thermostat a little bit and become a little bit more civil with one another,” he said. “These kinds of things are completely unacceptable.”