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Protesters march in Luray asking for Mayor Presgraves to resign

Published: Aug. 8, 2020 at 8:18 PM EDT
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PAGE COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - Protesters in Luray gathered to speak out against comments made by Mayor Barry Presgraves and to ask him to resign from office.

“We’re gonna stand up, cause we see you and you will be held accountable and we will call you out. And if it takes to march every day or every weekend, then that’s what we’ll do,” Michelle Billings, organizer of the protest, said.

This comes after he posted a racially insensitive comment on Facebook. WHSV reached out to Mayor Presgraves many times but did not hear back. He posted an apology on Facebook a few days later.

People of all ages gathered today to speak out against the comment made, like Douglas Alandiehl.

“We need to hold our elected officials accountable so that they can do better. We need to start producing leaders that can do better. Period, point-blank,” Alandiehl said.

The protest began at the West Luray Recreation Center with speeches and the signing of petitions.

“One day when our children and grandchildren ask us about today, they will ask ‘mom, dad, what did you do,” town councilwoman Leah Pence said.

Then protesters marched from the recreation center to the city hall.

“At one point I cried because I looked back and I was seeing little kids and everything and they don’t know what Aunt Jemima means,” Billings said.

The protesters wanted his resignation and for his actions to be held accountable.

“Let pointed officials know that ‘we see you’ and that subliminal message of racism that you send out, we see it,” Billings said.

There were also people in support of Mayor Presgraves, however, they declined to comment.

The town council will meet on Monday and many at the protest say they are looking to see what happens.

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