Berea City Council screenshot

Despite another handful of public comments in support of the Juneteenth Resolution in the city of Berea, the highly debated resolution was tabled once more after unanimous approval.  

This time — indefinitely. 

Unlike the last time the resolution was tabled, on Tuesday the motion for indefinite postponement came from none other than the document's author and primary sponsor, council member Emily LaDouceur. 

Comment after comment, several citizens urged the Berea City Council to approve the resolution Tuesday evening without the formerly discussed addition of language that stated "all lives matter." 

One of the resolution's strongest defendants was Berea College President Lyle Roelofs, who became emotional in expressing his support for the document. 

He explained with the creation of the American democracy, the founding fathers failed to mention in the Constitution if the statement "All men are created equal," applied to African American men and women. 

"It wasn't until 1865 after the Civil War on June 19th that an American military officer declared to the African Americans of Galveston, Texas, that they were, in fact, free," he stated emotionally. "So that is why Juneteenth is such an important date because it marks the date that African Americans became true American citizens and for that reason  — and I am sorry I am a little emotional about this — but for that reason, I am strongly in favor ... of much more official commemorations for Juneteenth and what it means for African American people." 

But it was shut down once again, by a unanimous decision that was led by LaDouceur. 

During the council comments, she briefly explained her surprising decision.

"There are a lot of people in the community who wish to pass it," she began. "My decision to table it indefinitely is because I would hate to see a resolution pass that does not embody what we truly mean it to be." 

Council member John Payne also talked about his reasons to support the decision to table. 

He said when he added language to a resolution supporting law enforcement in Berea in the last meeting, he spoke with the organization it pertained to about whether or not the language added would be respectful and accurate to the group they were referencing. 

In the last two weeks, and after carefully looking over the Juneteenth Resolution, Payne said he did the same in regards to adding "all lives matter."

He once again reached out to those the resolution was about and spoke with members of the Black community on how they felt about including the "all lives matter" language. 

"Overwhelmingly, I was told it was a poison pill," he said. "Those that were polite about it said the phrase was tone deaf.

"With the law enforcement resolution we didn't say 'all public servants matter.' With the proclamation today (regarding the health department) we didn't say 'all public servants matter.' In each instance we were either dealing with law enforcement or the health department. We have never set that precedent before."

Payne went on to say he was told by several members of the community it would be better to table the resolution rather than let it become a "poison pill." 

Additionally, council members Ronnie Terrill and Cora Jane Wilson explained their take on the Juneteenth Resolution. 

"I just wanted to say I wasn't against the Juneteenth Resolution... or whatever it was called," Wilson said. "I just don't support the organization of Black Lives Matter." 

Wilson stated she had no original intentions of making a comment, but wanted to say it was not the words "Black lives matter" that she did not support, but the the organization itself. 

"...As a group, we don't need to support, the council, we don't need to support a group," she started. "I mean, I don't know who wouldn't be in favor of the Juneteenth Resolution, as it was. Who wasn't for the freeing of slaves? I can't imagine. But two of their leaders say they are Marxists, trained Marxists." 

She added further she researched the matter herself and heard the claims of Marxism from leaders with the BLM movement. 

"I listen to them," she said. "This is no one telling me anything, this is Cora going to theirs and finding out about them. And I know not everyone is that way, but if we can make it not look like we are supporting an organization, but the people — let's support the people." 

Council member Terrill echoed similar statements. 

"I want to thank Cora for what she said, because we, the council, are for everybody," he began. "We don't care what color, what race — any of that. We support everybody. And that one statement of 'Black lives matter' is the one statement that I couldn't support either."

Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter at @TaylorSixRR. 

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