Sunday, June 16, 2024

Community Outraged by Tampa Councilman’s Racial Comment During Meeting

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Tampa City Councilman under fire for racial comment towards Black councilmember

Tampa City Councilman Alan Clendenin under fire for racial comment towards Black councilmember

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa City Councilman Alan Clendenin is facing backlash after making a controversial racial comment towards Tampa’s only Black city councilmember during a public meeting.

During a Community Redevelopment Agency meeting on Feb. 8, Clendenin made a comment that has sparked outrage. After a speaker finished a presentation about proposed city signage, Clendenin said, “I’m going to pull out my gay card and veto the color schemes.” He then turned to Councilwoman Gwen Henderson, who is Black, and said, “You can pull out your Black card anytime you want and I can’t pull out my gay card?”

Henderson responded by telling Clendenin to “stay focused” in the moment. The comments did not sit well with Bishop Michelle B. Patty and Norene Copeland-Miller, who were in attendance at the meeting. Patty, who hosts a podcast show called “What’s Really Happening,” expressed shock and disappointment at Clendenin’s remarks.

Following the incident, members of Tampa’s Black community showed up at the next council meeting to express their outrage. Bishop Patty called the comments racist and urged Clendenin to apologize. Another citizen, Stephanie Poyner, defended Clendenin’s comments, referring to the group as a “herd,” which further fueled tensions.

In response to the criticism, Clendenin addressed the community members during a public comment on Feb. 15. He attempted to explain his intentions behind the comments, stating that he never meant to hurt anyone and that he tries to bring levity to situations. However, his apology was met with disappointment from some community members.

Bishop Patty suggested that Clendenin undergo sensitivity and diversity training and donate to African American schools in the area. Clendenin declined to be interviewed and his team stated he would be busy for the next two weeks.

Councilwoman Gwen Henderson released a statement acknowledging the offense caused by Clendenin’s comments and emphasizing the importance of focusing on the important work that the Council needs to accomplish.

The incident has sparked a conversation about racial sensitivity and respect within the Tampa City Council. The community is now looking for accountability and a commitment to fostering a more inclusive environment moving forward.

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