Councilman apologizes for calling St. George organizers Al Qaeda

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - East Baton Rouge Councilman John Delgado is apologizing after referring to the organizers for the proposed St. George movement as "Al Qaeda" and "terrorists."  It comes just one day after the councilman said he "absolutely would not" apologize for his choice in words.  

It's the latest in a war of words and comes after Sen. Bodi White, the man who's been leading the St. George move, became emotional responding to Delgado's comments.     

"I guess if that local official can't apologize, I'll apologize for him," said White.

Sen. White was on the verge of tears after giving reporters an update on a controversial bill that's soon to be heard.  But the elephant in the room was a post by Delgado in reference to the organizers of the proposed St. George movement.  

The post read, "I'm saying that thanking Norman Browning and his ilk for any changes that occur to our education system is like thanking Al Qaeda for improving our airport security measures.  I don't thank people that try to destroy our community.  I condemn them for the terrorists that they are," said Delgado.

"To denigrate it down to call these folks Taliban and killers, it's unconscionable," said Sen. White.

On Wednesday, Delgado said the words were meant to be metaphors referring to how Baton Rouge would suffer if the proposed St. George separation goes through.

"They have held this parish hostage.  They have threatened us with economic collapse.  They have threatened to take away our police protection, fire protection, all in a goal of creating this school district for this section that they call St. George," said Delgado.  "What we're talking about is someone holding a gun to our head and threatening us with economic collapse and I'm calling them out for what it is."

"If you had just said terrorists, but remember, Al Qaeda's killed thousands of Americans.  They took down the World Trade Center," replied Sen. White.  "Threatening to exercise your constitutional right of an unincorporated area...tell me whom they've killed, whom they've terrorized."

But Thursday, the council member refused an on-camera interview and sent a statement after Sen. White had his say.  

In the statement, Delgado said, "I regret that my choice of words has become an issue and distracted us from the real debate.  It was not my intention to offend anyone.  I believe that the creation of the City of St. George would be catastrophic to East Baton Rouge Parish, and I'm very passionate about preventing that from happening.  I speak from the heart.  I understand it may not make me the best politician, but I will always tell people how I truly feel."

As for Senate Bill 636 that looks to strip some power from the EBR school board and superintendent and give it to individual school principals, lawmakers wanted more time to review it and plan to take the bill up next week.