City manager admits to making racial comments

Rawlings under fire for linking racial make up of City Council to votes

By Jamie Richard, Correspondent,
COATESVILLE – City Manager Gary Rawlings came under fire at Monday’s city council meeting after admitting to making racially charged comments.

The Rev. Floyd Narcisse, senior pastor at Bethel AME Church, came forward as a representative of the NAACP to address concerns about Rawlings’ remarks.  According to Narcisse, it had been brought to his attention that Rawlings had made previous statements about “being uncomfortable that blacks were taking over the council.”  Narcisse asked Rawlings if these allegations were true and hoped for a public apology.

“It’s the year 2012…we have to learn how to love one another,” said Narcisse.  “We cannot have someone who’s in power make these types of statements.”

Rawlings admitted to making similar comments at a small meeting with department heads.  Although he did specify what was exactly said at that meeting, Rawlings stated that his comments were taken out of context.

“I’ve been in this business 30 years, this is the first time I’ve had this kind of accusation thrown at me,” said Rawlings.

According to Rawlings, the comments were made in relation to the way some council members vote, drawing an analogy between the African-American and Caucasian members of the council and the newer and older members of council.

“I apologize if I have offended anybody,” said Rawlings.

The city council is made up of four African-American members – C. Arvilla Hunt, David Collins, Ingrid Jones and Jarrell Brazzle, and three Caucasian members – President Edward Simpson, Vice President Joseph Hamrick and Jeffrey LoPrinzi.  Councilperson Hunt denied that any votes were made along racial lines and decried Rawlings’ statements.

“As long as I’ve been in council I don’t think we’ve voted along racial lines at all,” said Hunt.  “In order for us to keep cohesion on this council, those types of statements cannot be made.”

Councilperson Collins also commented, assuring Narcisse and other community members that the council would take care of the matter.

“If there are any improprieties delivered on his part that we are aware of, I guarantee that we will take rapid and swift action to bring about a correction,” said Collins.

Despite the charged atmosphere of the room, resident Darrell Williams commended Rawlings for admitting to his statements.

“I’m glad you admitted to what you said; that’s a start in rectifying what’s wrong,” said Williams.

An executive session was held immediately after the meeting to further discuss Rawlings’ comments; no definitive decision was reached at the time.

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