YORK, Pa. (AP) – The mayor of a tiny central Pennsylvania town is being asked to resign over racist posts on his Facebook page, including two depicting apes with captions referring to President Barack Obama and his family, and one referring to lynching.
One image on the Facebook page of West York Mayor Charles Wasko is of a wagon or wheelbarrow full of orangutans June 18, including the caption, “Aww … moving day at the Whitehouse has finally arrived.” The wheelbarrow has the slogan “Kenya or bust” on it.
Another picture of a grinning chimpanzee doesn’t have a caption, but a comment posted on the mayor’s page on Feb. 14 says, “Most think it is Obama’s picture……sorry its Moochelles baby photo” — an apparent reference to First Lady Michelle Obama.
A Feb. 5 post, showing actor Clint Eastwood peering through a hangman’s noose in what appears to be a movie still from the 1960s, has the caption, “Barry, This rope is for you. You wanna bring that empty chair over here!”
Wasko was elected mayor of the borough of roughly 4,500 residents about 100 miles west of Philadelphia in 2013. Running unopposed as a Republican, he tallied 202 votes, against 78 write-in ballots for others.
Council members on both sides of the political aisle called for Wasko to resign after the York Dispatch first reported the posts Wednesday, as did Sandra Thompson, who heads the NAACP based in nearby York, a separate city that serves as the county seat. She said the posts were “obviously ignorance and racism.”
“Now that York NAACP has been made aware, we will be seeking to take action, because his obvious bias against black people has an effect on all his constituents, which he seems to forget includes black people,” Thompson said.
The borough’s population was roughly 86 percent white in the 2010 census and 12 percent black.
Wasko didn’t respond to a Facebook message from The Associated Press and wasn’t answering his home telephone Thursday. Reached by the York Daily Record on Wednesday night, Wasko dismissed the concerns as something “that’s going on up at the borough office” — using a vulgar term in place of “something.”
Wasko isn’t paid as mayor and votes only to break ties on the council. But he also oversees the police department in the borough, where the acting chief, Matthew Millsaps, said he was “disturbed” by the images.
“This in no way reflects the ideology of this department,” Millsaps said, noting the department has a Hispanic man and black woman among its eight officers.
Council president Shawn Mauck said he doesn’t know what to say about the posts. “I kind of want to throw up,” Mauck said.
Councilwoman Shelley Metzler was more blunt, saying, “I would punch him in the mouth if I could get away with it.”
The council members plan to ask Wasko to resign at their next meeting on Monday.