|Black Lives Matter activist Kevin Farmer addresses Cold Spring city council and asks Cindy Moore to resign her position after a complaint was filed against her for racial bias.|
By Robin Gee, city council beat editor
On Monday, October 12, about a dozen people demonstrated outside the Cold Spring City Council meeting, demanding council member Cindy Moore resign due to racist and insensitive comments she is accused of making to a city contractor.
The contractor, Darryl Beasley, filed suit against Moore in June over comments she made to him at a city holiday party that he said made him feel unwelcome and fearful for his future work with the city. He said he felt she made racist assumptions about who he was and whether he belonged at the event. Moore denies her comments were racially motivated.
Letters of support for Beasley's view of events from city staff, including the head of the city's Public Works Department, were included with the complaint filing.
Last month, in a negotiated agreement with Beasley, the city council voted to censure Moore and to pay $5,000 toward his legal costs. The censure is a public statement of disapproval. It does not affect Moore's ability to participate in council discussion or decisions. City officials also issued a resolution condemning Moore's behavior.
Opening a dialog at the council meeting
Before the meeting, Cold Spring Mayor D. Angelo Penque went out to meet with the protestors and invited them in to participate in the meeting.
Kevin Farmer, a Cincinnati area activist in the Black Lives Matter movement, helped organize the action. He addressed council during the scheduled citizens’ comment section of the meeting. He asked Moore to step down, but also offered to meet with her with an eye toward healing.
Moore said she would not step down and that the voters will decide whether she stays on council but agreed to meet and speak with Farmer, although no further details were set.
Farmer said he read the story about what happened to Beasley in the news. When he learned that the contractor had been working for the city for seven years, it challenged what he had come to believe about smaller mostly white cities in our area. When he dug into the background of the case, he decided it was important to voice concern.
"I feel racism can start in small communities and leaks out. It can build a nest and push hatred outward," he explained. "We have to start with our smaller communities and demand more accountability for these actions that occur."
Farmer thanked the mayor for welcoming his group into the meeting. "I thanked him for being so transparent. It took me by surprise."
Strategically, he noted that issues such as this are harder to address directly in larger cities like Covington or Cincinnati. It’s hard to speak directly to government officials and those involved. It’s a longer process, he said.
By addressing issues in smaller communities, Farmer said he hopes it will have a positive ripple effect outward to the larger community. "If we can address and fix these issues in our smaller communities, it can serve as a model for other places," he said.
He said he hopes Moore will take him up on his offer to sit down and talk. He said he sees racism as a mental health issue, and he hopes that she will resign and seek help.
Moving forward, Farmer said hopes to also sit down with the mayor to ask for additional language to be added to the resolution.
Mayor Penque praises the community
After the meeting, Penque issued a statement praising how council and the community came together and responded.
"The reason I am proud to be the mayor of Cold Spring is that last night’s meeting illustrates the values of the residents of Cold Spring, morality and civility. People came to speak their mind and a dialogue ensued. There were no threats, cursing or any other actions that many times seem to be the only things that make the news."
He went on to condemn Moore for the incident that resulted in the lawsuit, and said any blame for damage done to Cold Spring comes from her actions and not those of the protestors, the council, city staff, mayor, police or the Public Works Department.
Moore responds again to the accusations
A few days after the council meeting, candidates for Cold Spring council participated in a forum on NKY Election Central. Moore was unable to attend so she was invited to speak on NKY1 Live the following day.
The issue of the lawsuit was a primary point of discussion. When asked about the complaint against her, she said, "That is not exactly what happened. I would suggest you go back and watch the June 4 city council meeting on the city’s website...I had eaten my Christmas lunch and was mingling around the room introducing myself to people I didn’t think I recognized, and in the conversation, two or three minutes tops, there was no racial motives or actions of any kind. We started with a handshake, we ended with a handshake and five months later...this complaint comes."
She went on to deny any racial bias on her part, and that she was introducing herself around, working the room as a new council member.
In the complaint, Beasley states that Moore repeatedly questioned him and his presence. He said he felt she was confusing him with members of the work release program in the city simply because he is African American. When asked about that, Moore said the subject of the work release program never came up, and that she saw the name of Beasley’s company on his shirt so did not think he was in that program.
In the interview, Moore noted the rocky relationship she has had with Penque and other members of the city council. Over the course of her time on council, there have been several vocal disagreements, some of which have spilled into social media and other public outlets.
When asked, if elected, whether she can work with other members of council going forward, she said "I've been open from day one trying to work with everybody on council... I don't have any problem working with any of them," she said.
Note: For the full Cold Spring candidates forum and the subsequent full interview with Moore, go to NKY Election Central's Cold Spring page.