BLEVINS, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas NAACP and several residents are calling for the resignation of a school board member in eastern Arkansas after photos surfaced of him at a Halloween party in blackface while holding a sign referring to the Black Lives Matter movement.
NAACP members and others demanded Ted Bonner’s resignation Monday during a Blevins School Board meeting. But the board’s president, Justice West, said there was no mechanism for removing Bonner, who has refused to resign and has two years left on his term.
Bonner, who is white, was at the meeting. When asked why he dressed in blackface with overalls and fake crooked teeth, he did not address the question.
“It’s embarrassing, it’s ridiculous and it’s hurtful to the people of Arkansas, not just the people of Blevins,” state NAACP chapter president Rizelle Aaron said. “Ted Bonner has no remorse, he is not apologetic.”
Miller County NAACP President Ulysses Brewer said the blackface sends a bad message to children in the school district.
Arkansas television station KATV reports that Blevins School District Superintendent Billy Lee confirmed Bonner was the man in the photos.
Bonner later told KSLA-TV that he was “very sorry” and didn’t know there was such thing as blackface. He said the photos were from a private Halloween party.
Still, Bonner said he doesn’t plan to resign from the board.
“I am standing up for my right as a United States citizen,” Bonner said. “I am standing up for my right to stay on the board because the people elected me to be on the board.”
After hearing no action would be taken against Bonner, the local NAACP chapter said it would protest in Blevins until Bonner’s resignation.
A rally was held before the board meeting, and Lee threatened police intervention if the protesters didn’t vacate. Arkansas State Police told Lee that citizens were not unruly and had the right to assemble in public buildings.
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