A white Mississippi mayor who caused outrage with his tweets about the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has apologised but says he won’t resign.
Petal Mayor Hal Marx’s decision not to step down prompted protesters to return to City Hall for a third day on Sunday (local time) to insist the mayor leave office.
He told the Hattiesburg American his remarks on social media about Floyd’s death, which occurred after a white police officer kneeled on his neck, “were made in haste and not well-thought out or expressed.”
“I apologise to those who found them to be insensitive, and I apologise to the people of our city,” Marx told the newspaper in an interview on Saturday.
Still, the mayor said he plans to serve out his term that expires in July 2021.
Roughly 200 people protested outside City Hall on Sunday, the third straight day demonstrators have gathered to call for Marx’s resignation, the Clarion Ledger reported.
Petal’s board of aldermen also agreed the mayor should step down.
“Why in the world would anyone choose to become a police officer in our society today?” Marx tweeted on Tuesday, the day four Minneapolis police officers were fired. Floyd, 46, was handcuffed and pleading for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck Monday.
In a follow-up tweet, the Republican directly referenced the Floyd case, saying he “didn’t see anything unreasonable”.
“If you can say you can’t breathe, you’re breathing. Most likely that man died of overdose or heart attack. Video doesn’t show his resistance that got him in that position. Police being crucified.”
Hennepin County medical examiner said preliminary results show Mr Floyd’s cause of death to be the combined effects of to be the "Mr Floyd's being restrained by police, underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system."
Mr Floyd’s family are seeking an independent autopsy.
‘Not racist’, says Mayor Marx
Marx told the newspaper that city aldermen and others had wrongly characterised his tweets as racist.
“I did not make racist comments,” Marx said, “and I have not mistreated anyone.”
Marx has since closed down his Twitter account.
Social media has been awash with comments slamming Marx’s remarks, calling for his resignation.
“This is horrible, just horrible,” one person said.
Others labelled his comments “disgusting”.
A Change.org petition currently has more than 15,000 signatures for Marx to be removed from his position.
While the protests over Mr Floyd’s death began peacefully, they have slowly descended into chaotic scenes as thousands line urban streets nationally.
Vehicles, many police cars, have been set alight, while shopfronts have been repeatedly smashed in more than 30 major cities.
Authorities and governments have condemned rioting and looting amid the protests, while sections of protesters have taken it upon themselves to block shop fronts from potential looters.
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