PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - Dozens protested at the Petersburg City Council meeting Tuesday night, where there was standing room only.
The controversy all stems from a domestic assault charge against the City Manager, William Johnson. Mayor Brian Moore later took heat for commenting on the issue by saying, "things happen in domestic relationships".
Several activists said the statement minimized a serious issue like domestic violence.
Emotions ran high. Protesters stood silent, but their message read loud and clear. They held signs saying, "Things happen...like elections" and "No Moore Excuses", all very direct hits at Petersburg's mayor.
"For our city leaders to represent the city in this manner, is horrendous," said Linda Simmons who lives in Petersburg and decided to join the protest tonight.
"I am appalled, I'm upset, and I want an apology from him," added Jacquelyn Bailey Kidd. "I mean an apology to the women and children of this city because he minimized it by saying, 'things happen'. I'm angry. Women are angry."
The Mayor did have an extensive statement to make at the city council meeting. In part, he said: "I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted...council in no way condones any form of violence."
The council also voted unanimously to develop an advisory council to meet on domestic violence issues in Petersburg. Protestors say it's not enough- that they want a direct apology.
"How do you misinterpreted- misinterpret that things happen? You don't! An idiot would understand what he means," said Bailey Kidd.
But some say, the Mayor and the City Manager have said enough already.
"His wife has forgiven him and he apologized to the community. What more can he do?" asked supporter, Richard Stewart.
That advisory council will be called the Petersburg Interpersonal Violence Advisory Council. It will consist of City Council Members, staff members, and members of a local domestic violence prevention group. We're told members will be chosen at a later date, and that it will meet at least four times a year — the first time within at least 90 days.