Councilman defends Facebook post, says he's not a racist

Ryan Heck
Ryan Heck

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The debate over the proposed City of St. George continues amongst leaders, but the new issue is not about tax dollars and instead focuses on personal attacks.

Just a month after Mayor Kip Holden called for cooler heads following one councilman's comments, he's now having to do it again.

Strong words posted by Baton Rouge Metro Councilman Ryan Heck on his Facebook page garnered reaction from Baton Rouge leaders Wednesday. In response to a post on his page, Heck took exception to a specific comment and wrote, "GFY," an acronym for a derogatory phrase and then continued with…

"You insinuate that I'm a racist, you better be prepared to back up that claim or meet me somewhere so I can whip you're a--," Heck wrote.

That post was made after another statement by Heck in which he referred to those controlling votes and schools in Baton Rouge as, "poverty pimps." Political analyst Clay Young said the St. George argument has evolved into a verbal battlefield because it involves power, money and race and emotions have won out.

"I get that he was passionate about saying, 'Look, if you're going to call me a racist, you're going to have to defend yourself against the full force of my anger,'" said Young. "But again, emotions are so high right now that normally competent people are screaming at one another in ways they normally wouldn't do."

Heck explained his posts during a phone conversation.

"You can call me brash, fat or overweight, but you can't attack my family or something as vile as a racist," Heck said.

He defended the "poverty pimp" phrase as a reference to the magnet schools in the parish he believes cater mostly to privileged children.

"We don't have resources to make entire program magnet. It doesn't give middle class and the poverty-stricken access to join these magnet programs," Heck added.

His comments also caught the attention of Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden, who said while public officials often bear the brunt of personal attacks, those in office should never use threats of violence to make a point.

"We're in a position where you're going to take shots every day, but you don't have to go to the other person's level or begin now to call people a lot of different names or put out inflammatory statements that really could hurt the city of Baton Rouge and parish of East Baton Rouge," Holden explained.

Heck also said in the phone conversation that he does not back away from personal attacks.

The next development concerning the St. George issue is expected to come up at next week's Metro Council meeting with a measure calling for the annexation of the Mall of Louisiana and Baton Rouge General Medical Center - Bluebonnet.

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