Local News

Some Call for Selma Mayor's Resignation After 'Lynching' Comment

Posted January 10, 2008
Updated January 11, 2008

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— Some residents are calling for the mayor of Selma to resign after he made a comment about a lynching at a town meeting – a comment the mayor says was only an unthinking joke.

Mayor Charles Hester opened a public hearing on Tuesday night by saying that he did not expect so many people to be there. He followed with the comment: "Maybe one day we'll have a lynching, and we won't have to worry about that anymore."

Video shot by community activist Tony Tetteron shows that audience members immediately protested the statement, with some calling it a "racial slur," "very inappropriate" and "a rude remark." Hester then apologized.

The town government was holding a public hearing on a rezoning request that would allow a 106-acre ethanol plant to be built in Selma.

Tetterton said Hester's words were directed at him, although the mayor did not mention any names. Hester denied that he intended the comment to be about Tetterton or anyone else.

"It's just unconscionable that he would insult all of the people there," Tetterton said.

Hester said he meant the comment as a joke and did not think out its possible connotations.

"I felt right stupid when I said it," he admitted.

The mayor said he does not understand why some people have taken the comment personally.

"It's a small town and small-town politics," Hester said. "You know I don't want to go into that, but there might be some people who don't necessarily care for me."

Many residents said the mayor's lynching comment draws the kind of attention that this north Johnston County town – known for quaint antique shops – does not want.

"He should have said something that wouldn't pertain to lynching," Selma resident Kisa Neal said.

Selma council member Eric Seller said he does not know if any formal action will be taken against the mayor but believes that Hester did not intend his comment to be offensive.

Hester said he regrets making the comment and will continue to apologize for it at future meetings.

147 Comments

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  • pinelevelselma Jan 12, 7:31 p.m.

    ...Having said that please do not jump to conclusions. Not all council members have always agreed with the Mayor. Selma has a somewhat new town council that MAY not be as easily manipulated by the Mayor. Time will tell. The important point is that finally people are seeing Mayor Hester’s true color. Because of his arrogance he could really care less about what any of us think about his dictatorial style; after all, up to this point it has served him well. He will never resign. What will happen next is up to the town’s citizens.

    Please respond to pinelevelselmaatbellsouthdotnet

  • pinelevelselma Jan 12, 7:21 p.m.

    Here is the full text of Mayor Hester's remark:
    "We have a big crowd here tonight, bigger than, uh we are used to handling, uh. We have people in our community that stir up big crowds and we have one here tonight. Maybe one day we'll have a lynching and we won't have to worry about that anymore."
    While in this instance the comment was not racially motivated, there should be no doubt, that this was a hate remark that happened to be aimed at me. But I am not the issue.
    The rezoning for the ethanol plant was poorly reported by the press, hindered by the holidays. Concerned citizens spread the word, which resulted in a large crowd. The Mayor resented this and he used hateful speech to make that clear. Had no one attended, it would have business as usual for this small town which has a history of ignoring laws/regulations that don’t appeal to them. Examples: unlawful annexations, unapproved subdivisions, improper rezonings. Many NC towns have a catch-me-if-you-can attitude.cont...

  • common_sense_plz Jan 11, 11:51 p.m.

    lynching is not a racial slur, common people, don't you have better things to argue about. It probably was not a great idea to say it, but it is not a racial slur. I guess if they are going to put this word into the race bin, then they need to add "boy" to it as well, since way back when that word was used...I you will then have to find another word to call your male children.

  • oldrebel Jan 11, 10:58 p.m.

    Obviously there is no freedom of thought or speech in America any longer..especially if you're not a minority. I see people getting more bent out of shape of the word "lynching" than I do over the death of small children by predators. Go back and look at the number of responses for lynching stories, and then compare that with the number of repsonses when a child is killed by a predator. Nothing brings the roaches out of the shadows like a racially tinged story.

  • justbnme Jan 11, 4:01 p.m.

    msrj: Keep up the good work !!!

  • giffman Jan 11, 3:45 p.m.

    Yes to RKBA

  • Justin T. Jan 11, 3:35 p.m.

    I wonder what the rest of the civilized world thinks of America? We are fortunate enough to have freedom of speech then routinely steal our own right from ourselves.

    We should all fight true racism, primarily when it takes the form of discrimination. Waging a battle on words seems to take emphasis away from any real discussion on race, fairness, and liberty.

    Also this "outrage" is just band wagon jumping based on the comments made about Tiger Woods earlier this week.

    If pop culture icon Al Sharpton or a similar rabble rouser says "popsicle" is offensive... anyone saying "popsicle" will be called out as a racist.

  • jackadoo Jan 11, 3:25 p.m.

    amenmike...amen. I grew up here, saw the same KKK billboard, up until the early 80's, I think. I do think the Mayor though was referencing the old west, when people came from miles to see a public hanging. Then again, a public hanging is not a lynching. The Mayor needs to move on.

  • iamforjustice Jan 11, 3:17 p.m.

    For him to make a comment like that it was intentional. Who in their normal thinking and thoughts think of something like that? It is in his conscience and he has thought of it before. Don't try to defend him by saying it was an innocent slip up. That's like me going to the airport and using the word bomb...see what happens to you then...that is the same thing that should happen to him when he uses words like lynching.

  • Keep and Preserve the Peace. Jan 11, 1:14 p.m.

    Wow! msrj, you just made the most sense of any post I have seen in a while! Kudos to you!

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