COVINGTON COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - Allegations of racism are swirling around a south Alabama county commissioner. Angry citizens wanted to address the matter during the county commission meeting Tuesday but were thwarted by a procedural rule.
At the sound of the gavel to end the meeting there was an eruption; anger on two counts for citizens not being able to address the matter at the podium and the racist language allegedly used by Commissioner Tony Holmes on Facebook.
“This is not right because this is wrong what he did,” said one angry man in the audience.
The commissioner and a friend on social media were having a conversation about a Mobile police officer who had been shot in the line of duty. Holmes allegedly wrote “the only way to ever change this may be to bring back lynch mobs.”
People like Lisa Boatwright were also troubled by what they considered two additional offensive posts regarding the recent riots and the situation in Ferguson, Missouri.
“With his attitude, he has no business serving this town,” said Boatwright.
“I left a statement in the paper,” said Commissioner Holmes, who declined an interview with WSFA 12 News but said his lengthy response in the local paper would do.
Part of Holmes’ response says “I am unclear about how this witch-hunt against me started or who led the charge to misconstrue my words on social media as a racist.”
In terms of not being able to address the county commission, the commission chairman said it was a procedural matter; those who wanted to speak didn’t sign up in time.
“We put out the agenda Wednesday at 5 or shortly before that. You know we have rules and procedures the commission adopted those years ago,” said Chairman Gregory White.
The outbursts never reached a level of violence or threats with law enforcement nearby.
“The cowboy’s ABC. Do you know what the cowboy ABCs are? Always Be Cool,” Covington County Sheriff Blake Turman told the angry man.
The verbal sparring finally ended. Those who wanted to speak will now have a chance at the next meeting.
“His voice has power. His words have implications,” said Boatwright.
Protesters say they will formally ask Commissioner Holmes to resign during the next meeting. The commissioner has said he has no intention of doing so.
The next Covington County Commission meeting is set for July 14 at 9 a.m. Those who want the commissioner off the commission say they have a petition of names to try to make that happen.