Council members call for Chambers' resignation

Posted 6/6/19

CARBON HILL - Three members of the Carbon Hill City Council submitted a letter to Mayor Mark Chambers asking that he submit his resignation in the wake of Chambers' controversial comments on …

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Council members call for Chambers' resignation


CARBON HILL - Three members of the Carbon Hill City Council submitted a letter to Mayor Mark Chambers asking that he submit his resignation in the wake of Chambers' controversial comments on Facebook.

A copy of the letter at Carbon Hill City Hall has signatures from District 1 Councilman McClain Burrough, District 3 Councilwoman April Kennedy Herron and District 6 Councilman Greg Anderson. Four more empty spaces follow, although the council only has six members. 

"To MARK CHAMBERS," the letter states. "The undersigned council members hereby formally request you tender your resignation as Mayor of the City of Carbon Hill effective immediately. This the 4th day of June 2019." 

Chambers said on Tuesday he would not resign, but he did issue a formal apology for comments he made last Friday that have created headlines across the nation and even as far away as the BBC in Great Britain. Many of the headlines have said Chambers talked about killing the LGBTQ community, and even transgender people and Democrats. 

The Daily Mountain Eagle has not seen the full Facebook conversation on Facebook that started the controversy. WBRC reported parts of the conversation, which had been taken down by Tuesday. 

According to the station, Chamber's original post - which artwork on WBRC's website indicates may have been pre-designed - said in all caps, "We live in a society where homosexuals lecture us on morals, transvestites lecture us on human biology, baby killers lecture us on human rights and socialists lecture us on economics." 

Chambers received strong criticism from people online for the post and also for a response from a Facebook friend's reply, the station reported. 

"By giving the minority more rights than the majority," the friend wrote, although it is not clear by the station's reporting if the friend might have been also responding to another comment not mentioned. "I hate to think of the country my grandkids will live in unless somehow we change and I think that will take a revolution." 

Then the station said Chambers responded to that comment, saying, "The only way to change it would be to kill the problem out. I know it's bad to say but without killing them out there's no way to fix it." The station posted a screenshot of the comment, apparently blurring out the name of the person he was responding to. 

WBRC, after contacting Chambers Monday, said Chambers at first told the station, "I don't think I posted that. I think that's somebody else's post," but that he called back later to say he did post the remarks. 

He also said he thought the postings were private, and later changed the settings to private. 

Tuesday he issued a public apology for the remarks on his Facebook page, but not the city's Facebook page. Later in the day he apparently deleted the page, which included the apology, which the Eagle had made a screen capture. 

"I would like to make a public apology to my community. I and I alone am responsible for the comment that was made. It is not a reflection of the Carbon Hill City Council, or any City Personnel or Citizens. 

"Although I believe my comment was taken out of context and was not targeting the LGBTQ community, I know that it was wrong to say anyone should be kill(ed). I am truly sorry that I have embarrassed our City. I love this City and while in office I have done everything in my power to make this a better place for our families. 

"There are not enough words for me to express how much (I) regret posting that comment. I hope very much our Citizens and anyone that was hurt by this comment can accept my apology." 

When contacted by the Eagle Tuesday, Chambers said, "It was a private message to start with it," he said. "But it is not right, whether it was private or not. It was the wrong thing to say. It was taken out of context. I mean, no where in there did I say I was for killing gays or killing transvestites or that sort of thing. I was responding to a comment a guy said something about a revolutionary war. What I had said was in a war, you know, the only way to get your way is to kill the other side out. I had no idea it would never be a thing like this. But I was wrong for saying it. In no way does that reflect the thoughts of the city, for the city council. I apologize for saying it." 

He later said he doesn't believe anyone should be killed. "I can't tell you why I said that. It was just something dumb and stupid that I said," Chambers said. "I made a mistake saying it. I don't believe anyone should be killed for anything that they believe in." 

WBRC reported that a council meeting was held Tuesday where Chambers was formally asked to resign. Nanette Brown, the city clerk, said Tuesday there was no meeting that day. She said Burrough approached her about setting up a called meeting. She said she told him that a regular called meeting would require 24 hours notice, while a called meeting to accept a resignation could be held with an hour's notice. 

The Daily Mountain Eagle - which usually receives adequate notification from Brown when meetings are called or cancelled - received no notification for a meeting Tuesday. 

Burrough later told Brown he and other council members decided not to have a meeting, but to deliver the letter to Chambers asking for his resignation. She said she got a photocopy of the letter, while Chambers was given the original. 

Anderson and Burrough were at work and could not speak Tuesday afternoon, although they said they would be available to talk or make a statement later. Herron declined to comment at this time. 

WBRC quoted District 2 Councilman Clarence Colbert saying he and other city leaders stand behind Chambers. 

"Carbon Hill has never had a black police chief until they got Mayor Chambers in office. He hired the first black police chief," he said. "Since (Chambers has) been here, we have increased our budget. We have given raises a couple of times to all our employees."

He went on to say, "He's apologized profusely and said he was sorry, and he would do whatever it takes, even if it meant stepping down," Colbert said. "I told him, 'Please don't step down' because his leadership has brought the city as far as it has."