CARBON HILL - Carbon Hill Mayor Mark Chambers has apologized for comments on Facebook which appeared to criticize homosexuals, transgender people, Democrats and abortionists for lecturing to society - and then seeming to indicate the only way to deal with some segments of society would be to "killing them."
The Birmingham TV station which first reported Chambers comments said Chambers had at first said he thought he had not posted them and that he felt those were someone else's comments - before calling a second time to admit he did make the comments, but that they were taken out of context.
Chambers - who did not attend Monday night's Carbon Hill City Council meeting - did not indicate in the apology post that he would resign from office. He told the Daily Mountain Eagle in an interview Tuesday he did not intend to resign.
The "public apology" post was on Chamber's own personal page, which Chambers confirmed to doing. He said he did not post it on the city's Facebook page. "That's about all I'm going to put on there," he said.
By mid-afternoon, it appeared Chambers's personal page was taken down.
As the afternoon continued, CBS, the Hill, AL.com, the Associated Press and the New York Post picked up the story. The Gay Times in Great Britain carried the story, noting June is Gay Pride Month and using the headline, "Alabama mayor says LGBTQ people should be ‘killed out’ in Facebook post."
"As we mark Pride Month and celebrate how we have come as a community, this story is a stark reminder that there is still a long way to go until we have completely stamped out bigotry," The Gay Times noted on its website.
CBS used the headline, "Alabama mayor says to 'kill' LGBTQ community" and, like other outlets, used a photo of Chambers from the city's website.
The Daily Mountain Eagle has not seen the full conversation on Facebook that started the controversy. WBRC-TV in Birmingham posted a story online Tuesday morning with the headline, "Ala. mayor defends social media comments on killing homosexuals, transgender people and Democrats." It said the mayor's comments were posted Friday.
The station said the mayor made an original post, which was later removed, that 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 said it talked to Chambers Monday by phone about the posts. During an initial phone conversation with Chambers, he denied writing the comments.
"I don't think I posted that. I think that's somebody else's post," he was quoted by WBRC as saying. When a reporter asked if someone was using his identity on Facebook, he said, "I don't know." When the reporter offered to meet Chambers in person so he could view the post, he declined and then hung up.
According to the station, Chambers called back a few minutes later, starting a six-minute conversation. This time, Chambers acknowledge writing the post, but said it was being taken out of context. The station said Chambers also claimed he erroneously posted the comment publicly and that it was meant to be a private message between he and a friend.
During the call, Chambers spoke about immigrants, calling them "ungrateful," according to WBRC. He claimed immigrants were taking over the country and voiced his comments were in response to a civil war happening in the United States.
The mayor defended his comments, saying, "I never said anything about killing out gays or anything like that." When the reporter read back the post to him, Chambers said, "That's in a revolution. That's right! If it comes to a revolution in this country both sides of these people will be killed out."
WBRC reported Chambers complained about privacy and his Facebook page not being for the public, although Chambers acknowledged his pages privacy settings were public. He later changed the Facebook page to private.
The mayor said he was not concerned about criticism from his constituents. According to the station, he said there is only one person in the town who does not like him and that he doesn't have a problem with anyone.
On Tuesday, Chambers posted an apology on his Facebook page. The Eagle posted a screenshot of the apology on its Facebook page before Chambers later deleted his page. One person on Facebook said they were reading the apology when it disappeared.
"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."
Responses on the Daily Mountain Eagle's Facebook page after posting the apology Tuesday indicated some accepted the apology and some didn't, and several indicated they preferred he resign or that an apology alone would not solve problems caused by the comments.
Contacted Wednesday by the Daily Mountain Eagle, Chambers repeatedly said he was wrong to make the comments.
"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 not idea it would never be a thing like this. But I was wrong for saying it. In no way does that affect 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."
Asked about the initial posting about certain groups lecturing the nation, Chambers said, "I just want to say I'm sorry for all of it. I shouldn't have put it on there. I shouldn't have put any of it on there."