Updated Wed, Jul 3, 2013 11:39 am
A family pictured in a racially charged Internet posting by New Lexington Councilman Trent Thompson is asking for his removal from office.
Thompson apparently posted a photograph of a mixed race couple walking with their back to the camera pushing two baby strollers with a caption saying “This seems to be an ever growing epidemic in the village…. I wonder if they are payin in the system?”
Lisa Tracey, whose daughter is in the photo with her fiancé, has asked Council to hold Thompson accountable.
“Racial ignorance and hatred were posted about my daughter and family,” Tracy said to the council at their Monday session. “We ask for Mr. Thompson’s resignation and for a public apology, I don’t think [Council] want the village to be represented this way.”
The posting to Thompson’s Facebook page was dated May 22, just weeks after Village Council debated adopting a social media policy after a member of the volunteer fire department posted a picture of a piece of department equipment that eventually led to some criticism of local officials in the comment section.
Tracey’s daughter Amanda and her fiancé Alfonzo Daniels, a couple in their early 20s, are walking with their children in the photo, comments underneath the photo imply the family is collecting government assistance, including one from Thompson that reads “I’m sure there as several kids in there I am paying for is the issue! (sic)”
“I’m surprised that someone in his position would stoop that low,” Daniels said. “I mean, we were just taking the kids out for a walk.”
When informed of the photo, Lisa Tracey says she confronted Thompson to ask that he remove the post. Other members of the family, including Amanda’s grandmother Joyce Valentine, also asked Thompson to remove the post, which he did.
“I’ve known him since he was in my Sunday school class,” Valentine said. “I’m very disappointed he would do something like this.”
“[Thompson’s] tone was very angry but you have to feel sorry for him,” Tracey said. “I have prayed for him and will continue to pray for him but I don’t think someone like that should represent my village.”
“We were hoping to have some kind of resolution but I have been dismissed; now all bets are off,” she added.
The Tribune received a copy of Thompson’s Facebook post and all the replies listed, including one from Council President Polly Pletcher - a three-lettered response “Lol”.
“When I first saw that, I thought he was referring to the house in the background,” Pletcher said. “I didn’t see anything racial, when you read that where does it say anything racial?”
Thompson declined comment when asked about the picture and comments posted.
“There are more important issues for officials in this village to worry about than whether the parents of my grandchildren match,” Tracey said. “He is in the public eye; I don’t know what he was thinking.”
In addressing Council, Tracey said Thompson “broke the rules of the village’s own ordinance, which states documents will not be used to slander or defame another person’s rights and that comments considered an attack on another are not permitted.” Tracey also claimed that Thompson violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Tracey said her daughter is employed at a retail company in Reynoldsburg. “That is why she could not be here; she works 50 hours per week” which prompted Thompson’s only direct response to Tracey at the meeting when he congratulated her daughter on her employment status.
Mayor Dale Eveland interjected, saying “The village did not make these statements and will not comment on this issue.”
“Was it wrong? You should not do that,” Pletcher said. “But this is not a council issue, there is nothing we can do about it, I don’t think Trent should be removed from council.”
Councilman Tim Fiore said, “I think this goes to show that when you go on the Internet you should think before you hit that send button.”
Lisa Tracey says she has obtained a civil right attorney and will pursue the issue; she has contacted the ACLU and says she will also call the NAACP.