Councilman uses N-word, draws ire of mayor, critics
by W. Winston Skinner
A tape of Grantville Councilman Barham Lundy calling someone “nigger” has left some of his fellow council members and local residents angry.
Mayor Jim Sells and Councilman David Riley, who are both white, have both called for Lundy to resign. Sells says Lundy, who is black, has “no credibility with the people he was elected to represent” following the revelation, but noted he has no power to remove Lundy from office.
Lundy was tape recorded using the epithet about a year ago by Wayne Rosser, who was concerned about Grantville Police Department cars being outside the city limits.
In a broadcast on WAGA Fox 5 Atlanta on Monday, Riley said Lundy should resign.
Lundy’s recorded use of “nigger” has drawn sharp attack since Police Chief Doug Jordan resigned under pressure after texts – in which he used the same word – were shown to Sells a few weeks ago. Jordan is white.
“They’re trying to compare what I said to what the chief of police said. There is no comparison,” Lundy stated Tuesday.
“I was around some more blacks. I wasn’t in any official capacity. I wasn’t even in Coweta County. I was just in conversation with some black people,” Lundy said. “I wasn’t aware I was being recorded.”
Lundy said black people use the word “nigger” in speaking to and about each other – without meaning anything demeaning or unkind. He said that context applies to the taped conversation.
“I wasn’t talking about a white person. I wasn’t talking about a Mexican. I was using that term to talk about a member of my own race. It wasn’t a racial slur,” Lundy said.
“I suspended the chief because of the information given to me, which he didn’t deny,” Sells said. The chief subsequently resigned. Sells, who is acting as city manager while the city is without one, had the authority to suspend Jordan, but firing him would have required council action.
If a police officer has been fired, it can be difficult for that officer to get employment elsewhere in Georgia because of certification issues.
The council cannot remove Lundy because of what he said, nor can Sells. There is nothing in the city charter that would allow the city to remove Lundy, Sells said. A recall petition is the only way to remove a council member.
“The council member, I have no jurisdiction over,” the mayor asserted.
Still, Sells was sharp in his criticism of Lundy. “It’s absolutely unacceptable for someone in that position to use that kind of language,” Sells said, stating that Lundy represents the entire city.
“He should resign,” Sells said. “The community should not have to survive a council member whose language is that inappropriate. We’re all disgraced as long as he’s on the council.”
Rosser, who is black, spoke briefly about Jordan. “I had no problem with the police chief. He always treated me fair. I’ve never been pulled over by the police in Grantville. I’ve never been harassed by the police in Grantville,” he said.
Rosser joined with Sells and Riley in suggesting Lundy should resign. “I totally disagree with him using that kind of language. He is a public official,” Rosser said.
Lundy maintained he was not acting in his official capacity when he was taped by Rosser. He was called from his business on Meriwether Street and spoke with Rosser and another man briefly. Lundy observed the police car outside Grantville’s city limits, but he took no action.
Lundy said he is not supposed to directly give instructions to city employees. Council members are supposed to address concerns to the mayor or city manager.
He also firmly said he does not see any reason to resign.