In a mostly white county located in northern Michigan, an elected official, who was heard using a racist slur against Black people, has resigned, according to The Associated Press.
Leelanau County Administrator Chet Janik has stated that Tom Eckerle, a member of the county road commission, would be stepping down after criticism for his racially charged comments.
“I personally and professionally think it’s in the best interests of Mr. Eckerle, the road commission and Leelanau County,” Janik told The Associated Press.
The incident occurred last Tuesday when Eckerle was asked why he doesn’t wear a mask as he made the comments in the commission’s meeting room prior to the start of a public meeting, according to NPR.
“Well, this whole thing is because of them n—–s down in Detroit,” Eckerle said, according to the Leelanau Enterprise.
Commission Chairman Bob Joyce quickly challenged Eckerle’s use of the word, telling him, “you can’t say that!”
“I can say anything I want,” Eckerle reportedly replied. “Black Lives Matter has everything to do with taking the country away from us.”
Later, Eckerle, in a phone interview with Interlochen Public Radio, doubled down on his racist rhetoric.
“No, I don’t regret calling it an n—–,” Eckerle told IPR. “A n—– is a n—– is a n—–. That’s not a person whatsoever.”
He also told The Associated Press, “I’m not a racist. Black Lives Matter is racist. If I believed in Black Lives Matter, I would be racist. … Black Lives Matter has no heart. And that is as offensive to me as the N-word,” he said. “If I could get a few people that, when they see a Black Lives Matter sign up, to think the N-word, I have accomplished what I’m after,” he added.
Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released a statement through her spokeswoman.
“His comments are atrocious,” Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said Friday. “The governor has been very clear—there’s no place for hate and racism in Michigan.”