Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin penned a letter to Arnold, Pa. Mayor Karen Peconi on Thursday expressing his concerns over what he called her “deliberate misrepresentation” of the 1963 civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham.
Peconi came under fire after her controversial Facebook post during the public protests in Pittsburgh following the death of Antwon Rose — a 17 year-old African-American man shot and killed by a police officer in Pittsburgh in June. The officer has since been charged with criminal homicide and awaits trial.
According to TRIB live, Peconi posted a video of protestors being knocked down by water cannons during the during the civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham and suggested that law enforcement use the same method on the Antwon Rose protestors. Saying “I’m posting this so the authorities everywhere sees this… I agree with Tom.. bring the hoses,” The Root reported. “They don’t care about Pgh. none of them work now.. That’s how they can do this at 7am…. very sad.”
After learning of Peconi’s comments, Woodfin wrote an open letter her in an effort to encourage “constructive reflection,” on her part.
“I am writing as the mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, because you posted and commented on a photograph taken during the civil rights demonstrations that took place in our city in 1963, in a way that completely misrepresented the purpose and meaning of those historic events,” Woodfin wrote. “Those demonstrations — and the oppressive manner in which our city government of the time chose to respond to them — raised the consciousness of Americans to the injustices being protested. They brought about the end of segregation in Birmingham and played a large role in paving the way for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”
“Today, we in Birmingham take tremendous pride in our city’s role in advancing the causes of justice and equality for all Americans,” Woodfin continued. “And, even as we recognize the distance our nation, more than a half-century later, still has to travel along that road, we take pride in Birmingham’s progress and our ongoing emergence as a city of growth and opportunity for all. We honor our past and proudly and actively commemorate the history that was made in our streets — but our eyes and our actions are fixed firmly on the future.”
You can read Woodfin’s full letter here.
Peconi apologized for her actions in a statement, saying “I love this community. I would do anything for the people here. I don’t take my position as Mayor lightly and deeply regret the comments I made on Facebook. It was never my intention to offend anyone, and for those who I offended I am sincerely sorry,” according to Trib Live.