A city council member in Arkansas entered into a heated Facebook argument with a black resident and misspelled the man's name to include a racial slur. Pine Bluff City Councilman Bill Brumett, who is white, repeatedly typed black resident J.C. Cunningham's name as "Cooningham."
The city council responded on Monday night by passing a unanimous, 7-0 vote of no confidence and asked that Alderman Brumett resign. Protesters gathered outside City Hall, saying they would request a recall of the councilman should he not step down. "I've apologized to everybody, and it doesn't seem like anybody wants to say that's enough and let's move on," Brumett said, according to TVH 11.
The councilman had reportedly become agitated that Cunningham misspelled his name during their argument on a public access Facebook forum. He responded by intentionally misspelling Cunningham's name, but said he meant to type "Cuunhingham," the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. Brumett said the inclusion of the word "coon," a racial slur, was unintentional.
“He stated that it was a mistyping on the computer, but those letters are nowhere near each other,” said Councilman George Stepps, Raw Story said.
Brumett, the only white member of the council, had previously apologized, posting a statement on Facebook and sending a personal message. Pine Bluff City has a population of about 50,000 and is more than 70 percent black, according to the Democrat-Gazette.
Stepps, who initiated the no confidence vote, was direct in his criticism of Brumett. "I cannot trust anything that he brings to the council. I cannot, in clear conscience, believe that Brumett has any love or compassion toward African-Americans," Stepps said, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "I can no longer, in clear conscience, listen to his lies, deception or his feeble attempts to speak to the issues of fairness."
There are those that support Brumett, with more than 1,000 people joining a Facebook group in support of the alderman within 24 hours, Raw Story said. The administrator of the group wrote that its purpose was "to show Mr. Bill that he is not alone, that we all stand beside and behind him."
Cunningham said in an earlier statement that he didn't believe Brumett's misspelling was a simple typing error.
"I cannot imagine sitting at a computer and typing a form of someone's last name and using a racial slur without realizing it," Cunningham wrote in a statement. "The insertion of such words would be automatically clear to me. Mr. Brumett should have been keenly aware that more than a misspelling had occurred in his sentence."