CARROLLTON, Ga. - Thousands of people have signed a petition, demanding a Carrollton city councilman resign after controversial comments and Facebook posts circulated online.
Screenshots of Watters' polarizing Facebook posts about race and sexuality circulated online after he said “all lives matter” during a special council meeting.
While he did not want to speak on camera Thursday, he did tell FOX5's Alex Whittler over the phone he is not resigning, and since the meeting had a conversation that weighed heavily on his heart.
“All lives matter, Gerald," Watters said during a special Carrollton city council meeting Monday.
"Not black lives matter?" former councilman Gerald Byrd asked.
Moments prior, Byrd asked all current members whether they support the "Black lives matter" movement.
“All lives matter," Watters insisted.
"Not black lives matter?" Byrd asked.
“All lives matter," Watters repeated.
The councilman’s comments during that special meeting sparked widespread frustration, prompting several members of the community to bring up Watters' history of controversial Facebook posts including:
• One he reposted from an account in 2016 that reads: “Black lives matter is a hate group.”
• Another in which Watter’s wrote “buh by pansies” above an article about the Boy Scouts of America accepting transgender boys, and there are a myriad of other contentious posts viewers have sent FOX 5.
“I want to know why haven’t I seen you out protesting?" DeWayne Crowder said during that meeting Monday.
"...Getting to know people… listen to the stories," he said between tears.
Crowder is a father and demanded the council take race relations seriously.
“I didn’t know how it was gonna come out," he told FOX5's Alex Whittler Thursday.
"I didn’t want to seem angry," he said.
Crowder’s message was received.
Councilman Watters asked for Crowder's contact information after his public comments Monday. ,
Crowder says he had seen Watters' social media posts and accepted his invitation to lunch.
"I know a lot of people are mad. I know a lot of people are upset, but if we say 'I don’t want to talk to him,' he’ll never have an opportunity to change," Crowder said.
Jim Watters released a statement Thursday. It reads:
"I apologize to anyone who was offended by my use of the phrase all lives matter. The horrific murder of George Floyd has sickened and angered me as it has everyone I know. I understand the outrage and firmly denounce the sin of racism. Black lives absolutely matter and I am sorry for any hurt I have caused. As a Christian conservative, I pray that God will bring love and unity among all races and heal our land.”
Many viewers called FOX5 demanding the mayor make a comment on Watters' posts.
She did not directly respond to Alex Whittler's inquiry's about those Facebook posts, but she did provide a statement:
"I understand that Mayor Pro Tem Watters is issuing a separate statement. As Mayor of Carrollton, I wish to assure our citizens — all of our citizens — that we take the issue of race relations and law enforcement very, very seriously. Each year, we devote substantial resources to police training and community outreach, but we know that we can always do better. As Mayor, the commitment I make on behalf of the City is that we will do everything possible to improve and foster the relationship between our police department and everyone within our community."