CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After several days of non-response, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Vilma Leake, who attended two events with hate group leader Louis Farrakhan last week, has declined to condemn the leader’s comments about Jews and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Leake joins her colleague, Commission Chairman Harold Cogdell, and Charlotte City Councilmember LaWana Mayfield in refusing to condemn the comments.
Leake told qnotes Monday morning that she attended the Farrakhan events, one at which she sat on stage behind him, “as an individual, and not on behalf of Mecklenburg County.” It is her responsibility to “be knowledgeable and informed on any and all outstanding personalities who live or come to visit this community,” she said.
“As to Mr. Farrakhan belief’s, I have no control over his freedom through the First Amendment which gives him the right to express himself,” Leake continued. “I am a member of Little Rock AME Zion Church. My responsibility is not to encourage or entice citizens to join any group or body of believers, whatever their belief system might be. I do respect and support wholeheartedly the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”
Farrakhan has been named a hate leader by the Southern Poverty Law Center. His organization, Nation of Islam, has been named a hate group. Both have a history of extremist anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT statements and beliefs.
Other local elected officials have already gone on record condemning hate, including Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts and City Councilmembers John Autry, Claire Fallon and Beth Pickering.
Cogdell, meanwhile, has said he had “no regrets” after attending a Farrakhan event. Mayfield has had several opportunities to condemn the hate speech and has repeatedly refused.