By Lauren Rearick
First, he made anti-choice and homophobic statements on his personal Facebook page. Now, Mark Chambers said he does not intend to resign from his position as Mayor of Carbon Hill, Alabama, the Daily Mountain Eagle reports.
In a since-deleted Facebook post made on June 4, Chambers directed a hateful remark at pro-choice supporters and LBGTQ+ people, WBRC reported. He later responded to a follower’s support for his beliefs, and suggested that he thought the only way to better society was by “killing them out.”
Chambers initially denied making the comments, telling WBRC “that’s somebody else’s post.” When pressed whether someone had used his Facebook account without his knowledge, Chambers said he didn’t know. He later called WBRC and admitted he made the post, but it was being “taken out of context” and that he “never said anything about killing out” anyone. He also said that he intended to only share his remark with a friend in a private message, which doesn’t negate the fact that he still expressed the belief.
Shortly after he confirmed making the post, Chambers issued a public apology on his personal Facebook page, the Daily Mountain Eagle reported; his page disappeared from Facebook later that day. In a screenshotted image of his remarks, Chambers said he was “responsible for the comment that was made,” but he denied directing the remarks at a specific group of people. “I believe my comment was taken out of context and was not targeting the LGBTQ community, I know that it was wrong to say anybody should be kill, [sic]” he said. “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.”
On Tuesday, three members of the Carbon Hill city council called for the mayor’s resignation in a letter; Chambers told the Daily Mountain Eagle he does not intend to resign. In another interview with WBRC, a council member who remained unnamed said Chambers told them he "would do whatever it takes, even if it meant stepping down."
LGBTQ+ organizations have also called for Chambers to step down, HuffPost reports. Equality Alabama and Hometown Action created an online petition asking for the mayor to step down and the Human Rights Campaign’s Alabama group spoke out against the “horrifying, unconscionable and unacceptable” remarks in a Facebook post. “LGBTQ people face disproportionate levels of violence and harassment in their daily lives — a fact that is especially true in Alabama, where there are no statewide LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination or hate crimes laws,” the post read. “We can and should expect our elected officials to represent all of us, or at the bare minimum, to protect us. Despite his subsequent apology, this is wholly inappropriate behavior, and Mayor Chambers must be held to account.”
Alabama Senator Doug Jones addressed the actions of Chambers in a tweet on Wednesday, June 5, writing, “This kind of hateful thinking breaks my heart because it remains persistent in our society. It is especially hurtful when it is a public official. It doesn’t represent Alabama and it only serves to hurt the LGBTQ community & the people who love them.”
Nearly 17 percent of hate crimes committed in the United States in 2017 were against LGBTQ+ people, NBC News reported. People are concerned about the way Alabama specifically handles hate crime tracking, as the state’s hate crime law does not include acts of violence believed to be tied to sexual identity or gender orientation, the Montgomery Adviser notes; a bill is currently before Alabama senate that would change that.
Richard Cohen, the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, previously told WSFA that the state seems to struggle with properly counting hate crimes, and suggested that it could be due to someone’s fear of coming forward to report a crime committed against them or because law enforcement may not fully understand what constitutes a hate crime, and why it’s important to report them.