UPDATE: Since 11Alive's story aired regarding A Newton County commissioner's racially charged remarks on Facebook, U.S. Representative Hank Johnson has weighed-in on the controversial comments and is asking John Douglas to step down. The full statement is at the bottom of this story.
NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. -- A local leader is under fire for racist remarks he made online.
His controversial comments were spotted by a viewer who sent 11Alive the image before it was taken down.
Newton County Commissioner John Douglas was commenting on a picture posted on Facebook.
The widely-circulated picture offended many people who saw it and posted their disapproval.
But Douglas posted more than disapproval – he took racial aim at the person in it.
The post was a comment made on a disturbing and controversial image of a woman desecrating the American flag that appeared on Facebook.
The picture shows her making a profane hand gesture while appearing to wipe her rear end with the flag itself.
Douglas denied knowing how his name became associated with the posting.
It's no surprise the woman's actions and her photo sparked serious outrage on social media.
That outrage was seen in a comment from the Facebook profile of Newton County Commissioner John Douglas.
Only the comment doesn't mention the flag or America.
He at first seems to know nothing about it when asked, however.
"I don't know what happened, look at what she's doing; I think that's wrong," he said.
The Facebook comment seemed to go further than the flag issue itself, however.
The comment made under Douglas' profile appeared underneath the image.
It read: "She is just a cheap street walker knee grow who lays down for white men."
The comment was quickly removed from his page minutes after being posted but not before a constituent got a screen grab of it.
Minutes after his denial, inside before a commission meeting, Douglas admitted he made the post but said it was for good reason.
"My response is you need to go find out why she did that," he said.
In response to questions about the racially inflammatory comment, Douglas said that he found the image inflammatory and asked if 11Alive had contacted the woman.
11Alive's Caty Beck explained that the woman is not elected, doesn't serve the public and doesn't have constituents.
She continues to ask about the post to which Douglas replied.
"Look, you're not supposed to be up here anyway. Go find her and ask about that," he said.
11Alive then asked him how his constituents would feel about the comment.
"I think my constituents would prefer us to protect our flag," he said.
When pressed about the racially charged comment that appeared on his account, Douglas responded: "If she apologizes for that, I'll apologize for what I said."
Some commissioners think one is certainly in order and that his words are in no way appropriate.
"Absolutely not, I'm embarrassed by that frankly," Commissioner Nancy Shulz said.
"I'm just kind of blown away by the whole thing," Aaron Brooks said. "It's very disturbing."
Others defended Douglas.
"If anyone is going to be censored, it should be her instead of him," Ricky Mock said.
One veteran told 11Alive that while the image makes him furious, Douglas represents everyone – black and white alike.
"What they've done, you condone it or you don't condone it but you shouldn't be going after people because of their color – that's very wrong," the vet said.
But as for Douglas, when asked if he regretted the statement he had a simple response.
"If I had to do it again, I'd probably do the same thing," he said.
But shortly after the comments, he made an apology before the board for his remarks.
He continued to express regret online when he posted these statements to his Facebook page.
"I used very insensitive racial words when I attack the flag abuser on Facebook that I deeply regret and apologized to the full commission and to Catie Beck from Channel 11 in tweets tonight. Again, I am very sorry for being insensitive, but you can understand how I lost my cool when I first saw this."
But for others, this apology didn't quite cut it - particularly the Newton County Democratic Party.
"The Newton County Democratic Party not only strongly condemns Commissioner John Douglas' disgusting Facebook rant; we wholeheartedly feel that these small-minded statements make him unfit for public service and call for his resignation immediately.
While we vehemently disagree with the woman's actions, we believe she has a constitutionally protected right to express her opinions of how this country has treated people of color for centuries. We are not here to condone her behavior, but it is absolutely unacceptable for a public official to use racist, sexist language. Period.
Commissioner John Douglas has every right to his own opinion. However, this kind of toxic language is impermissible. His comments were mean-spirited, hateful, and petty. Douglas has failed to represent the interests of all his constituents in an honorable manner, and is unfit to serve as commissioner.
Douglas' non-apology "apology" shows that he is not the least bit sorry for his actions…just sorry he got caught. Residents of Newton County embrace and celebrate diversity. And these latest revelations show that Douglas has no place as a leader in our community. He must resign immediately."
On Saturday, U.S. Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia's 4th District joined the call for Douglas to resign his position. His full statement is provided below:
"I am shocked and appalled that a public official who represents constituents in the same county that I represent would harbor attitudes towards African-Americans – and Black women in particular – as venomous and hateful as those expressed by former Republican state lawmaker and current Newton County Commissioner John Douglas," said Johnson.
To make matter worse, Commissioner Douglas was dishonest and untruthful in first denying he had posted his ugly and demeaning comments on Facebook. Then, after acknowledging that the offensive comments were his, he doubled down and said that he would say the same thing again, and that he would apologize only when the victim of his racist attacks apologized to him. Finally, he expressed what can only be described as a half-hearted apology. Commissioner Douglas' views have no place in public life, and he should try to reclaim what little honor he has left by resigning immediately from the Newton County Commission.
Moreover, I call upon my Republican colleagues to join me in the call for the resignation of Newton County Republican Party Chair Bill Perugino. His refusal, on behalf of the party, to immediately denounce the comments of Commissioner Douglas displays at worst his agreement with the racist and sexist sentiments of Commissioner Douglas, or at best, his lack of understanding that we live in the 21st not the 19th century."