Hal Marx, the mayor of Petal, Mississippi, refused calls from city officials and residents to resign Thursday after defending the police officers who killed unarmed black man George Floyd in Minneapolis.
In the aftermath of Floyd’s death, Marx wrote on Facebook, “If you can talk you can breathe. Think about that before rushing to judgement.”
He also wrote on Twitter that he “didn’t see anything unreasonable” about the actions of officers who knelt on Floyd’s neck while he pleaded with them that he couldn’t breathe.
“If you can say you can’t breathe, you’re breathing,” Marx wrote. “Most likely that man died of overdose or heart attack. Video doesn’t show his resistance that got him in that position. Police being crucified.”
WDAM-TV reports: Petal aldermen called for Marx’s resignation on Thursday night during a special-called meeting to address the situation. … Alderman Clint Moore read a statement on behalf of the Board at the beginning of the meeting, saying the city wishes to embrace the diversity of Petal and condemned Marx’s comments for isolating members of the community. … Marx responded to the statement, saying he wished he had said his comments differently. He said he didn’t mean to minimize Floyd’s death, but wished to say that people should wait for all the facts before rushing to judgement. “I didn’t think through what I said as far as including some sympathy for Mr. Floyd, his family,” Marx said. Marx declined the request for resignation and said he would serve out his term, which ends July 1, 2021. The Board tabled an agenda item requesting a salary reduction for the mayor to get an opinion from the Attorney General. Aldermen also tabled a motion to introduce a social media policy to allow further research and discussion.
More from USA Today: “I will never surrender to the mob mentality,” said Marx, adding that he and his family had received death threats. Residents, with emotions running high, called for his resignation. Protests, sparked by his comments, are planned over the next three days. … Marx tried to apologize for phrasing his comments on social media in a way that was offensive, but did not back down from the intent of his message. As he spoke, members of the audience shouted over him, drowning his words. “You already have your minds made up about me,” he told them. The meeting at times grew heated, and Marx threatened to have the room cleared. Moore asked the audience to let the mayor speak before allowing public comment.
Watch a report from WAPT-TV, as well as video of the full meeting, below.