Story at a glance

  • “Well, this whole thing is because of them n-----s in Detroit,” a county official in Michigan said at a public meeting Thursday, according to the Leelanau Enterprise.
  • He defended his use of the word and has refused to give up his seat.
  • A spokesperson for Gov. Whitmer called the comments “atrocious."

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) is calling for the resignation of a Republican official who said the n-word during a public meeting and is refusing to stop using the racist language or resign. 

Leelanau County Road Commissioner Tom Eckerle used the racial slur moments before the start of a meeting Tuesday when asked by a fellow commissioner why he was not wearing a mask. 

“Well, this whole thing is because of them n-----s in Detroit,” Eckerle said at the public meeting Thursday, according to the Leelanau Enterprise. 

Road Commission Chairman Bob Joyce interjected and rebuked his colleague, but Eckerle, who was elected in 2018, continued. 

“I can say anything I want. Black Lives Matter has everything to do with taking the country away from us,” he said. 

Eckerle doubled-down with his use of the racial slur during an interview with a local public radio station, saying it is not racist to use the word, explaining it was the same as saying he was German, or “Polack.”

“I don’t regret calling it an n----r,” Eckerle told Interlochen Public Radio. “A n----r is a n----r is a n----r. That’s not a person whatsoever.”

He told the outlet his comments were not intended to be heard by those outside the room, although members of the public were listening to the meeting over the phone. 

The other four members of the Leelanau County Road Commission urged Eckerle to resign, but he has refused to do so. 

Whitmer also joined the calls for his resignation. 

“Governor Whitmer believes that Road Commissioner Tom Eckerle must resign immediately. His comments are atrocious,” a spokesperson for the governor said Friday according to The Detroit News. “The Governor has been very clear — there’s no place for hate and racism in Michigan.” 

Eckerle’s comments came one day before Whitmer signed an executive order officially declaring racism a public health crisis.

Published on Aug 07, 2020