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Public Demands Apology, Resignation of Black Councilwoman Who Criticized State Violence by Police and Soldiers – She’s Not Budging 

Durham City Councilwoman Jillian Johnson. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Durham City Councilwoman Jillian Johnson. Photo courtesy of Facebook.Elected officials and residents of a North Carolina community are calling for the resignation of a city councilwoman who criticized the actions of armed police officers and military members in a Facebook post Monday.

In the now deleted post, Durham city councilwoman Jillian Johnson weighed in on federal lawmakers’ call for more gun control measures, pointing out the racial implications of such legislation, Raleigh’s The News & Observer reports.

“I am all about keeping guns away from dangerous people, but I feel like more of us should be pointing out that the most dangerous people with guns are cops and soldiers, and that the no-fly list and FBI anti-terror efforts are seriously corrupted by entrapment, racial profiling and Islamophobia,” Johnson’s Facebook message read.

According to The News & Observer, the councilwoman’s harsh words sparked outrage among citizens and law enforcement personnel, who demanded an apology and called for her resignation.

“It is a slap in the face of everyone that protects our city and our country,” read a statement released by the Durham County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 2. “While Ms. Johnson is entitled to her opinion, she is an elected official and should be held to a higher standard.”

Johnson published another post to her Facebook page Wednesday, clarifying her previous statement all the while reaffirming her strong opinions. She commented on the nation’s alarmingly high incarceration rates and the dangers of state-sanctioned violence versus non-state-sanctioned violence.

According to The News & Observer, Johnson doesn’t think all law enforcement officials cause harm; her “issue is with the institution.”

Durham mayor Bill Bell acknowledged that elected officials, including Johnson, have a right to express their opinions, but says he disagrees with the councilwoman’s initial comments.

“She doesn’t speak for the council,” Bell told the publication.

Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews also expressed disappointment with Johnson’s remarks, a spokesman from the sheriff’s office said. According to The News & Observer, newly-elected Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis issued a statement expressing the city’s appreciation for “faithful, dedicated police officers who are committed to serving residents.”

“The Durham Police Department, in conjunction with city leadership, recognizes the sacrifices our officers make daily and thank them for their service,” the statement continued.

Mike Evans, president of the Durham County Fraternal Order of Police, said he has been bombarded with texts and phone calls from police officers and military service members outraged by Johnson’s comments, the publication states.

“We are offended that we would have a city official that would make this kind of comment when the Police Department is working so hard to build trust in the community,” Evans said. “How are we going to build trust with the community when you have a city official making these types of derogatory statements?”

Johnson was elected to the city council in November 2015, receiving the second-largest amount of votes among the six candidates running for the vacant council seats.

The News & Observer reported that Johnson, along with another council member, is a bit more outspoken and active than others on the committee. For example, the councilwoman recently participated in a breastfeeding “nurse-in” at Costco and protested unsatisfactory conditions at the Durham County jail. Johnson’s website even mentions her active roles “in the labor movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the LGBTQ movement.”

So far, it looks like the councilwoman has no plans of apologizing for her statements.

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