Mayor's 'gringo' remark sparks outrage


Southeast / Virginia 55 Views

What was meant to be a positive discussion turned ugly when a Gainesville man demanded an apology from the mayor for using the word “gringo” to describe white people.

The Gainesville City Commission on Thursday discussed options to get residents access to community identification cards in place of state-issued IDs. The cards could help people obtain access to local health services, libraries and bank accounts. It could also be a potential ID card for undocumented residents.

After commissioners expressed concern about the database being requested by immigration enforcement agencies, Mayor Lauren Poe joked about a way to confuse authorities.

“One potential solution is that we get every gringo in the world to show up on day one to get our IDs, so there’s sort of an illusion of who might or might not be…” Poe said.

When a woman asked him to explain his comment, Poe said he was referring to people who have “white privilege” and don’t often face the same hardships as people of color.

Gainesville resident Nathan Skop jumped in, swore at the mayor then demanded a public apology, saying the term was derogatory and racist toward hard-working white people.

Poe refused, saying the term isn’t derogatory and that he was making fun of himself.

Later in the meeting, Skop again demanded an apology, to no avail.

“I should not have to feel stereotyped in this chamber," he said. “I shouldn't have to feel ashamed to be white.”

Poe responded: “I assure you this will not be the last time you hear ‘white privilege’ in this chamber.”

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