NAACP demands Butner apologize and step down
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Local NAACP officials are demanding Malcolm “Mac” Butner publicly apologize and step down as chairman of the county’s housing authority board due to what they say are racist Facebook comments.
If Butner won’t leave the post on his own, they are calling on the Rowan County Board of Commissioners to remove him. But one commissioner says that although the board has urged him to step down, county officials won’t force the issue while Butner receives his due process.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is investigating a complaint received about Butner’s Facebook posts.
In a press conference at Trinity Presbyterian Church, NAACP members passed out blown-up copies of Facebook messages posted by Butner in reference to the Moral Monday protests, African Americans and liberals, among other groups.
Scott Teamer, president of the Rowan-Salisbury NAACP, said the organization is calling for Butner’s immediate resignation as a result of the “controversial statements and racially offensive rhetoric” posted online.
“If Mr. Butner doesn’t have the common decency to step down, we are demanding the Rowan County commissioners terminate (Butner’s) appointment effective immediately,” Teamer said. “We understand Mr. Butner’s constitutional right to express his own personal beliefs and political views as a citizen, but as chairman of the Rowan County Housing Authority, he clearly demonstrates the inability to be fair and just to housing residents, African Americans, other minorities and Rowan County citizens.”
When commenting on Facebook, Butner typically uses all caps and very little punctuation.
Referring to a picture of a Moral Monday protest, Butner wrote “Gee, They are all black. I guess the white folk could not get off because they were too busy working (and) being productive, good citizens.”
In regard to illegal immigrants crossing the border, Butner wrote “send them all back with no exceptions. Start all over again legally.”
Butner followed with “Let Clint Eastwood round (them) up. As Rowdy Yates on Rawhide, he drove many a cattle technique the same. Ye Haw!”
Butner calls the criticism of his posts “a political battle between Obama liberal Democrats and myself, a lifelong Ronald Reagan conservative Republican.”
In one of Butner’s longer critiques on the national GOP, he said he had been involved in the party at every campaign level since he was 9 years old, and “the only winning formula is to be the party of conservative principles.”
“This outreach crap has been tried many times and has always failed because the groups you outreach to care only about how much you are going to promise and give them, and we will never be able to give more than the liberals and (Democrats) because they don’t have a principled bone in their body and they don’t care even if our constitutional republic is destroyed,” Butner wrote. “To hell with the lesbos, queers, liberals and baby killers.”
In his approximate 40 years in the real estate housing profession and public service volunteerism, Butner said he has never discriminated nor been accused of being unfair to anyone.
No evidence exists to support such a charge, Butner said.
In the past few years, Butner said he has undergone five FBI background checks with fingerprints to work in federal government service.
“No hint of any questionable activities nor comments ever surfaced,” Butner said. “Any comments made by me were made as an individual citizen protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
Butner said his attackers are the same anarchists who destroyed Republican conservatives Jim Sides and Craig Pierce and who now are trying to destroy him as well.
The housing authority chairman said he has no power in determining any housing needs or requests.
“All of that is determined and implemented by our very able staff and executive director, Sara Potts, who are the best in North Carolina. It is fitting that all of this is occurring during the birthday week of our Republic,” Butner said. “We need to especially thank all of our vets both living and gone who have fought without fear to preserve that First Amendment right so we can all speak our minds without fear.”
A public official is obligated to work for the good of the whole, Teamer said.
Teamer said he had emailed Rowan County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jim Sides as well as Sides’ fellow commissioners to get Butner’s dismissal on Monday’s commissioners meeting agenda.
“Mr. Sides declined our request, stating the matter is under investigation,” Teamer said.
Teamer said commissioners do not have to wait on an investigation, and the Facebook comments were deplorable and discriminating.
“We’re asking them not for a favor, but to do their jobs, take their oath seriously and take swift action,” Teamer said.
The NAACP members were joined at the press conference by members of the group La Resistance, which successfully opposed Sides in the May primaries.
Roy Bentley, spokesman for La Resistance, said Butner was appointed by Tea Party commissioners who exercised “their characteristic bad judgment” in appointing their political crony to a position of responsibility.
“We join with the NAACP in demanding his immediate ouster from all positions of responsibility,” Bentley said.
The Rev. Olen Bruner, pastor at Trinity Presbyterian Church, said freedom of speech is a respected aspect of the American experience, but that right should stop short of racial slurs from people who are expected to represent the community in an unbiased way.
“The comments, although protected freedom of speech, shine a spotlight of concern onto the bias and prejudicial nature of one who heads the local housing authority,” Bruner said. “We respectfully ask that his position be taken from him, or that he respectfully resigns.”
Craig Pierce, vice-chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had not completed a formal investigation of the incident.
“They did an informal investigation to research the Facebook comments,” Pierce said. “Everyone under the umbrella of the county, including the elected officials, appointed people and county employees, are afforded due process.”
If an appointee, such as Butner, does something like posting controversial Facebook posts on his personal time that are inflammatory, the county cannot step in as long as it is not part of meeting minutes, public record and representation of the county, Pierce said.
“When it comes to inflaming a certain group or individual, you have the right to free speech,” Pierce said. “It doesn’t give you the right to not be upset about a comment just because it is made.”
Even so, Pierce said, commissioners have asked Butner to “do the right thing” and resign.
“He insisted he won’t do that, and he is afforded due process. There has been no formal complaint,” Pierce said. “He didn’t make (the comments) on the record, in the meeting or in the minutes. That is his First Amendment right.”
Butner’s term is set to expire in September, and Pierce said he doesn’t see him being reappointed as chairman of the housing authority board.