Va. mayor makes statement following controversial Facebook post

Va. mayor makes statement following controversial Facebook post
Luray, Virginia (Source: WHSV)

LURAY, Va. (WHSV) - Following a racially-insensitive Facebook post allegedly written by the mayor of Luray, Barry Presgraves made a statement on his Facebook page.

In the post, Presgraves said “I posted a picture on 8-1-20, I am sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings lesson learned. It was not my intent to hurt anyone. I took it to be humorous. Sorry!”

Residents of the town are beginning to ask for the mayor’s resignation. On Saturday, a protest is organized to take place outside of the W Luray Recreation Center at 12:30 p.m. to demand action.

Over the weekend, a social media post appeared online by Mayor Barry Presgraves who allegedly wrote: “Joe Biden has just announced Aunt Jemima as his VP pick.”

The post appears to have since been deleted, but not before a screenshot was captured and widely shared by users online.

Presgraves could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Councilwoman Leah Pence called for Presgraves to resign.

“The comment you posted has a type of humor that not been appropriate or funny in my lifetime or yours,” said Pence, who shared her letter to Presgraves on Facebook. “While a resignation alone will not resolve the systemic subliminal racism that plagues our community, your resignation is imperative as we work towards ending racism in our community. You are accountable for your words and decisions as the leader of The Town of Luray and your recent actions have caused me and many citizens to lose faith and confidence in your capacity to effectively and justly serve as Mayor of The Town of Luray.”

Councilman Joey Sours said he spoke with Presgraves since the comments were posted.

"I spoke with the Mayor personally to encourage him to publicly apologize for sharing the meme, regardless of his intent due to the resultant impact, and to make every effort to rectify the situation," Sours said in a statement to WHSV. "I care deeply for the Town of Luray and its citizens and I care for the Mayor whom I've worked alongside for many years. Although the comments were not my own, I apologize to all who were hurt by them. "

Sours added while condemning harmful words or actions is justified, we must not make the mistake of immediately condemning the individual.

"That only cements divisiveness as it prevents a means for dialogue that can bring healing and closure to the situation. This one comment need not define the man nor our community. This is a time for forgiveness and grace - something each of us needs to both give and receive every day. This is something that we will get past," Sours' statement read.

“Barry does not speak for the council and does not speak for me,” Councilman Ron Vickers said.

According to a public notice, the Town Council will discuss the events leading to this statement at their August 10th meeting

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