Social media posts shared by a New Carlisle city council member have prompted local supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement to hold a protest in the city Saturday.
The protest is meant “to bring awareness to injustice, support the Black Lives Matter movement, come together and let the community know we’re all as one,” Mike Walters, the organizer of the protest said.
Walters, a 2000 Tecumseh High School graduate and current Springfield resident, said he decided to organize the protest because of Councilman Dale Grimm’s social media posts. Walters added that he was also inspired by other communities’ peaceful protests.
The shared posts have also prompted calls for Grimm’s resignation.
“I would just like for someone to explain to me how what I wrote could possibly be considered racist,” Grimm told the News-Sun on Tuesday. “Like I said last night, it was originally posted by a black guy – a Phd. He got no flack. I’m white I get flack. I said all that last night.”
Grimm discussed the social media posts and the email during the New Carlisle City Council meeting Monday night.
“I just want to clear the air publicly. I do not consider members of one race better than another simply because of the color of their skin,” Grimm said. “If I did, I would not have the number of black friends that I have - that I treasure. I don’t look at them as black friends. They are just friends.
“The way I look at it, we’re all the same. We just have different packaging,” Grimm said.
The controversy started after Grimm shared Facebook posts on May 29 and June 3 — days after George Floyd was killed while in the custody of Minneapolis Police. Floyd’s May 25 death sparked immediate protests that spread across the country and around the world and have continued for three weeks.
“Thank you rioters. You have taken a situation where almost every single American stood in solidarity against a despicable injustice and now you have made the whole issue about how much you do not know how to function in a normal society. You are your own worst enemy,” said the post Grimm shared on May 29 from a Facebook page called Occupy Democrats Logic.
In commenting on the post, Grimm wrote, “Yes, the death of George Floyd was a criminal act. The subsequent rioting was also a criminal act. The only purpose it served was for the benefit of the self-serving rioters.
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“How many black-owned businesses were senselessly destroyed? It appears that “Black Lives Matter” is only rhetoric. If black lives mattered, these imbeciles would not have destroyed black businesses - the livelihood of other blacks.”
On June 3, Grimm shared an image that said: “Black lives don’t matter to black people unless killed by a white person. Y’all not ready for this conversation. Y’all kill each other all day everyday.”
Grimm wrote “Brilliant” in the comment to that post when he shared it.
The shared image was from an individual’s personal Facebook page. The individual lists their hometown as Fairbanks, Alaska.
Grimm received an email in early June regarding his social media remarks, according to documents from the City of New Carlisle, which were obtained by the News-Sun through a public records request.
“I am writing today to demand your immediate resignation from the New Carlisle City Council,” the email said. “The racism that you have proudly expressed online has no place in our society, let along from an elected official in today’s climate.”
In an email response, Grimm said, “What I posted is the truth. Very few black people are killed by police. Infinitely more blacks are killed by other blacks than by police. Infinitely more white people are killed by police than are black people. Infinitely more white people are killed by black people than by police. Yet there is only an uproar when a black person is killed by a white person.”
He added, “I do not believe that one race is intrinsically better or different than another race based solely on their race (the definition of racist). Rather, I would put to you that organizations like “Black Lives Matter” are very racist.”
During the council’s work session Monday night, Councilwoman Amy Hopkins said she supports the Black Lives Matter organization.
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“I’ve lived here for over 40 years,” Hopkins said. “During that time, I’ve treated all people equal and attempted to correct any injustice I observed. I do not feel one person speaks for the whole council unless the council wants them to.”
Linda Eggleston Nowakowski, another council member, said she agreed with Hopkins.
Grimm said he has not had additional conversations regarding the posts with other council members.
“No one has been able to say anything,” Grimm said.
Randy Bridge, the New Carlisle City Manager told the News-Sun on Tuesday that he does not share the same viewpoints as Grimm.
“I can not speak on behalf of city council members nor can I speak on behalf of city council itself,” Bridge said. “I can speak on behalf of the administration and that is we support peaceful protest to end all racism and prejudices.”
Denise Williams, President of the Springfield NAACP, said she spoke with Grimm directly about the comments and he was, “unapologetic.”
Williams said Grimm should step down because of the comments.
“Anybody that is in the public eye that has a view like that about black people — it is not an example of leadership we need,” Williams said. “It’s so disappointing.”
In response to calls for him to resign, Grimm said, “Why should I?”
“No one has been able to explain what I did wrong - what I did that was so evil,” Grimm said. “I made all my comments last night.”
Protesters will meet at 1 p.m. at Smith Park, 801 W. Jefferson St. They will march around the block, down N. Main Street and back to the park, where there may be a speaker, Walters explained. The protest is slated to end at 3 p.m.
During the march, Walters said they will walk on the sidewalks.
Bridge said there will be a police presence during the protest, but that is for “the safety of everyone involved.”
Walters said he is hoping individuals from other local communities will join him and other residents in bringing awareness to injustices.
“Come out and support us - support the message that we’re going to deliver,” Walters said. “When we go to New Carlisle, we’re going to be peaceful.”
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