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Protest planned in opposition of Luray mayor

Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 7:43 PM EDT
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LURAY, Va. (WHSV) - Some residents in the town of Luray are demanding for Mayor Barry Presgraves to resign after he released a statement earlier this week apologizing for a racially-insensitive Facebook post he made over the weekend.

On Thursday, town resident Michelle Billings met with Luray Police Chief Bow Cook to fill out a permit application for a protest on Saturday.

“Why would Mayor Pregraves do something like that in the state that we’re in with racism,” Billings said. “I mean, it’s always been here but you’re the mayor of Luray.”

Billings said she was shocked when she read Presgraves post over the weekend and had to read it twice. The post suggested Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden picked Aunt Jemima as his vice president.

She said ever since she was a little girl her mother told her the representation of Aunt Jemima has been wrong.

“My mother explained to me what Aunt Jamima was how she was perceived by white people,” Billings said. “What her job was, you know to take care of the slave masters kids.”

For the past several days, WHSV has been reaching out to Mayor Presgraves but he has yet to respond.

Audre King, with the West Luray Recreatoin Center, said like many he was upset when he saw the post but had scheduled a meeting with the mayor to speak about his actions.

“I believe that Barry is sorry that people were hurt,” King said. “The issue is he doesn’t know why we were hurt.”

King said he hopes after sitting down with Presgraves things will begin to change and the town can heal.

“I firmly believe once someone, in particular a black person, explains the history behind his comments he’ll have a new realization,” King said.

If the permit for the protest is approved by the town manager, it is scheduled to start outside of the West Luray Recreation Center at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.

In light of the social media controversy, a statement from the town council is expected to be made at the next town council meeting on Monday.

Copyright 2020 WHSV. All rights reserved.

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