Kitchener-Waterloo

Citizens call for resignation of Mayor Les Armstrong after 'White Lives Matter' video

Citizens of Wilmot are calling for Wilmot Township Mayor Les Armstrong to resign, despite his apology for sharing a Facebook post featuring a 'White Lives Matter' banner.

'Do you really want to be known as the racist mayor?' delegate asks Les Armstrong

Wilmot Mayor Les Armstrong said in a statement that he would 'work hard to be part of the movement to create a new platform for change,' after public outcry for sharing a White Lives Matter video on Facebook. (Julianne Hazlewood/CBC)

Wilmot Township Mayor Les Armstrong has apologized to town council and the people of Wilmot for sharing a "White Lives Matter" video on Facebook.

Armstrong told council at a special meeting Friday, that it "was truly a significant error in judgment."  

He read the same statement at meeting of Waterloo Regional Council earlier this week.

"To redeem myself and to show that actions speak louder than words I will work hard to be part of the movement to create a new platform for change," Mayor Armstrong stated.

"I know too that freedom of speech is a right and also a serious responsibility. I accept full responsibility for what I have done. I don't expect forgiveness based on my words alone." 

Earlier in the week Armstrong said he was sorry if people were offended by what he shared, but said he didn't regret posting the video.

Delegates who appeared before the virtual town council meeting said they were not convinced and called for Armstrong's resignation.

"Do you really want to be known as the racist mayor? Do you really want all the hurt and controversy you've caused to shroud all the good things you've done in your career?," asked delegate Gita Schuster-Ashley.

"Is this a legacy that you want to leave behind? Because remember bad politics will always be overshadowed by good deeds." 

Other delegates who said Mayor Armstrongs' apology came with "no commitment to action" also demanded he step down.

'Public relations nightmare'

John Bailey, who lives in Wilmot Township, said he has known Armstrong since he was a young boy and has regarded him "as a kind, affable and generous person."

But said the events of this week has concerned him and caused him emotional pain.

"Whatever conversation you were intending to have, you were absent and unapologetic for it," said Bailey.

"I'm also deeply concerned that you have allowed yourself to become radicalized by information that has been designed to appeal to white privilege, to be divisive and to cause further pain."

Bailey said the Mayor's actions have created a public relations nightmare for the township and even suggested a crisis public relations team should be hired to fix what has become a "national embarrassment."

After hearing the public comments, Armstrong was given a chance to respond. 

"I have given this considerable thought and I am choosing not to resign," said Armstrong.

"Instead I am determined through my actions the sincerity of my apology is genuine, that I can largely do better and that I can make amends to the people I have hurt."

In what were, at times, emotional responses from councillors they acknowledged the Mayors words, but some called for firm commitments to doing better.

"I expect action. Not all lives have mattered and our community does not feel safe," said councillor Angie Hallman.

Armstrong responded saying he "intends to take it upon [himself] to further educate and to learn."

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