During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, which was set up by civil rights leader, Rev. Raymond Brown and a group of supporters of P.A. Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter, the group’s call to reject the mayoral recall in Saturday’s election turned to hostility and finger-pointing toward the media for the way the public views Slaughter.
Brown, president of the National Action Now civil rights organization, organized the press conference, which took place in front of Port Allen City Hall 30 minutes before the regularly scheduled city council meeting, to simply show support for Mayor Slaughter as she faces a recall election taking place Saturday.
According to WBR Registrar of Voters Stacy Ryan, about 41% of registered voters in the city turned out to the early voting period between November 2-9, the highest percentage of early voters in the city’s history.
“I believe the mayor has done a great job, and I believe there’s race and jealousy playing a role to take her down,” Brown said during his speech. “I want to point out that the mayor is the top administrator and executive of this city. You’ve got to respect the mayor.”
As Brown spoke, a gathering of about 16 city residents stood behind him on the front steps of city hall, many adorned with black t-shirts that read, “We support Mayor Slaughter.”
“Some of the whites want to continue to live in the past. They want to control the city hall; control the city contracts and the money,” Brown said, adding that he opines the city is in the midst of a power struggle.
“You have the black council members saying she’s good; you have the white council members saying ‘we want her out.’ There’s a power struggle,” he said. “The people should not be hoodwinked and bamboozled… you don’t need new leadership. You’ve got good leadership right now. Keep it the way it is. She is going to bring us to the 21st century. We’re not going back.
“We’re going to fight hard on Saturday – win or lose. We’re going to fight. We’re going to encourage people to go to the polls and defeat this.”
But after a question posed by WAFB-TV reporter Kiran Chawla to Brown during the press conference, Slaughter supporters became hostile and began chastising members of the media as well as city residents.
“You have depicted our story like we don’t exist. We voted (Slaughter) in. We are the majority,” said Adrian Joseph, Port Allen resident of 15 years. “Nobody wants to hear the black’s story.”
Joseph said she became fed up with city business when former Port Allen Police Chief, Adrian Genre, was hired as the city’s CAO in 2012.
Genre resigned from the chief of police position in August 2000 and spent time in federal prison after he was convicted on a felony count of perjury for lying to a grand jury.
“When they hired Adrian Genre back, that was a slap in our faces. Bergeron said that we were going to forget about it in six months,” Joseph said. “Y’all (media) have been coming out; we have asked for the media to come hear our story.”
Chawla rebutted Joseph’s statement, saying that she has attempted to speak with several black residents in the city, but has been met with dismissal.
“You don’t want to hear our story. You want to tell the story the way you want to tell it. But we have our own story to tell; we might not want to get on camera to talk to you all,” Joseph said. “Let me tell you this – when we vote Saturday, we’re going to put (Slaughter) back in. Remember, we have the power over here.”
After several outbursts from the group of supporters behind him, Brown said, “they feel the media has been biased,” adding that not all in Port Allen are in favor of the recall reiterating the “power struggle” within the city.
“The racial issue is that the white power structure, including the white city council members, don’t want a black mayor in power that they cannot control,” Brown said.
WBRZ-TV reporter, Chris Nakamoto, reminded the reverend that the two people who chaired the recall petition, Delores Kibby and Millie Jackson, are black women.
“Even during the civil war you had black folks hanging around with the confederacy,” Brown responded. “We don’t know there are black sell-outs? Y’all don’t know that? Uncle Toms, and sell-outs and backstabbers? People like Clarence Thomas who vote against everything black folks fought for on the Supreme Court. There are people like that!”
Brown said that he knows people have different opinions about how well the mayor has performed her duties since taking office in January.
“That’s democracy,” he said.
Port Allen resident Reynard Douglas said that he believes Slaughter has come up against many obstacles in her short tenure with the city and has not been given a fair chance to be the city’s leader.
“What I have seen over the past few months, since January, has been tragic for our city,” Douglas said. “She’s up there to run our city. That council up there is meant to be a team. A team is a group of people working together to achieve a common goal and that goal has not been achieved.
“After Saturday I believe that that goal will be achieved because there will be nothing else they can do about it but work with the mayor of this great city.”
The election to find if Mayor Slaughter will be recalled will be held Saturday from 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
To find polling locations, call 366-2421 or visit www.geauxvote.com