A city council in Oregon has been forced to apologize after one of its members told a gay man he would spit on his grave after he died of AIDS.
Echo City Councilor Lou Nakapalau made the comments in a Facebook post on the page of Kumu Hina, a documentary by gay filmmaker Joe Wilson about a transgender Hawaiian woman.
In the since-deleted post, Nakapalau wrote: “When you croak of AIDS (Anally Injected Death Serum) I’ll spit on your grave.” Right Wing Watch reports that he also included an anti-gay slur.
His comments prompted widespread criticism, but Nakapalau refused to apologize, forcing the Echo City Council to vote on whether to issue its own apology.
The East Oregonian reports that councilors sat in silence for a few moments after Councilor Robert Harris proposed an official apology, prompting “outcry from audience members as it looked like the motion might die from a lack of a second.”
Eventually, the entire council, including Nakapalau, approved the statement.
“The Echo City Council would like to extend its sincerest apology to those who were offended by comments made by a council member in a Facebook dialog reported by the East Oregonian,” the statement says. “Comments of individual council members on their personal social media accounts do not have any endorsement or approval of the council as a whole nor do they represent city policy.”
It notes that the city does not endorse disparaging statements nor take actions or create policies that are “in any sense prejudicial or biased toward a class or group of people.”
During public comments at the council meeting, Jenny Sullivan, a resident of Hermiston, told the council that Nakapalau should be removed from office.
“I’m absolutely disgusted,” she said, “and think any self-respecting council would throw him off.”
In an email to the East Oregonian, Pam Reese, a business owner in Echo, said that the the public apology was the “least” the council could do.
“It was mystifying to watch a group of elected officials struggle to understand how to do the right thing about the hate speech of one of its members,” she said.
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