SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – With just about one week left before the runoff for the Savannah mayor’s race, a controversial post from Mayor Eddie DeLoach’s son has been circulating online.
Mayor DeLoach is seeking a second term and is facing Alderman Van Johnson in the Dec. 3 runoff.
Monday morning, a posting from Adam DeLoach prompted a quick response from Johnson.
“I am very disappointed and very discouraged about it,” said the alderman. “You know, obviously, I know of the young man but he certainly doesn’t know me. And to me, this was an obvious attempt to race-bait and to stir up fear in people.”
The post, on Adam DeLoach’s personal Facebook page, said, “There is no difference between Van Johnson and Louis Farrakhan. Never forget ‘black press only.'”
That referred to a meeting last March called by a group that said only black media could attend. Johnson said he attended just to talk about his candidacy which he had announced the month before.
“Obviously, I felt I should have acted differently and so I quickly apologized for doing that. But again, in that case, I only did harm to myself,” Johnson told News 3. “In this case, this is someone actually using a negative, derogatory and false image of me to try to drive fear for an election.”
Farrakhan is the leader of the group “Nation of Islam,” which has provoked controversy over the years. Farrakhan has been labeled as anti-semitic and anti-white by a number of groups.
“For many people, his image stirs up some fear and then to have me in a picture next to him saying ‘remember’,” said Johnson.
We had hoped to talk to the mayor on camera but were referred to a Facebook message:
I do not agree with the comparison my son made on his personal Facebook account asking people to remember Alderman Johnson’s attendance at the “black media only” event in March of this year.
However, when Alderman Van Johnson decided to attend a segregated media event – a decision which became a national embarrassment for our city — I was very clear that segregation and racial exclusion in any form are not what this city is about.
It is my personal belief that attending a racially segregated meeting is unethical. No sitting elected official – especially not one seeking to lead a diverse city – should be excused for behavior that excludes participation on the basis of race, political leaning, religion, gender or any other factor.
Being mayor means representing every community – which is why my campaign, since day one, has chosen to focus on a vision of continued progress for EVERY family in Savannah. And while I do not condone the opinions voiced online, I will also never condone the exclusionary behavior of Alderman Johnson.
I have no interest in engaging in identity politics, and call on Alderman Johnson to join me in unity these final days before the election.
Johnson told us earlier on Monday that what he seeks is unity as well.
In terms of the “black press only” meeting, Johnson said it was 9 months ago, but the fact it is still brought up by the mayor (and now a family member) seems to be an act of desperation.
“If he wins or loses, do it fair and square, do it based on issues, do it based on visions and positions. But don’t do it based on fear,” said Johnson