Mayor Apologizes For Internment Camp Remarks, Says He Didn’t Know It Would Go Viral

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November 20, 2015 3:17 p.m.
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The mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, apologized Friday for his recent remarks comparing the current threat of terrorism in the U.S. to the national mood after Pearl Harbor, invoking the internment of Japanese-Americans in his call to block Syrian refugees.

Mayor David Bowers said in a statement released Wednesday he’s “reminded” of the internment of Japanese-Americans with “the threat of harm to America from Isis [sic]” now “just as real and serious.”

The remarks were met with nearly universal condemnation, with members of the community calling on the mayor to resign, and prompted TV actor George Takei to invite the mayor to a musical about internment camps.

A local reporter tweeted from a special city council meeting on Bowers’ comments Friday:

“I was thinking of the families of the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris and the threats to our nation’s capital city when I made that statement yesterday,” Bowers said in another statement released Thursday. “I did not intend to offend anyone.”

His unprompted statement came amid a wave of Republican governors saying they oppose the relocation of Syrian refugees to their states, citing the Paris attacks that left 130 dead. None of the suspects identified in those attacks have been Syrian refugees.

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