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Commissioners Chairman Edds apologizes for lynching joke

Edds

File photo – Rowan County Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds speaks shortly after being sworn into office in December 2014.

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Rowan County Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds publicly apologized Monday for a lynching joke he made one month ago during a Landis Board of Aldermen meeting.

Just before the county commissioners were scheduled to enter a closed session, Edds asked them to pause the regularly scheduled meeting as he delivered a prepared apology.

One month earlier, he made a joke about lynching when referring to the size of a crowd at the Landis meeting.

“Without question, I understand that that word brings significant pain to people in our community, especially to my friends and neighbors in our African-American community,” Edds said. “In our political climate, I think we would all agree that our society has become increasingly sensitive and, oftentimes, is too quick to be offended. This, however was not one of those times. That word was hurtful. It was simply not the word I was looking for. I made a huge mistake, and I’m very sorry.”

Edds was apologizing for a comment he made on Feb. 7 before presenting the Rowan County Declaration of Interdependence to the Landis aldermen. In Monday’s speech, he said the February comment came after a person attending the Landis meeting compared the crowd and the mood to the wild West. The crowd was standing room only.

“I walked in and asked the gentleman at the door, ‘Is there going to be a lynchin’ tonight — be a hangin?’ This is a good group. So I think last time I was around a group this big we had a hangin’ afterward,” he said in the early February meeting.

In his apology, Edds said he promised to change the tone of political discourse in Rowan County when he was sworn in to office. Edds said incumbent county commissioners have fulfilled that promise. He also guaranteed that commissioners would make mistakes.

“Well, here we are, and it was me,” Edds said. “There is never a good time, or an acceptable time, to say something that personally hurts people. But I think it is possible for there to be a worst time. And with the struggles that we find our community experiencing right now, I could not have picked a worse time to use the wrong word.”

Edds said he often speaks at public meetings or events multiple times per day. Sometimes, he messes up, but the lynching comment was not a simple mistake, he said.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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