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Nashville Mayor John Cooper, a Democrat, has drawn the public’s ire over the crude, distasteful and insensitive way in which he responded to the bombing that rocked the city’s downtown area early Christmas morning.
Speaking with local station WKRN after the bombing, he deemed it appropriate to tell what he seemed to perceive as a joke — a grossly ill-timed one, that is — while describing the work that awaited his city’s investigators.
“They’re gonna be super-careful,” he said of his investigators, “and they’re gonna inspect everything and make sure that, you know, this is the only explosion that’s gonna happen in Nashville today.”
The mayor then burst into a brief, awkward chuckle.
“The dramatic thing, if you were closer, is the broken water mains do lend a certain trauma to the scene, for sure,” he added in a casual way that again seemed almost dismissive of all the damage that had been caused by the explosion.
“So all that, it’s a hard thing, but that’s why I’m feeling calm is … well we are a famous place, and …”
Watch the now-viral clip below:
In Nashville we have a tyrant as a Mayor @JohnCooper4Nash is now laughing, possibly another explosion/bomb today. It’s disgusting he would think this is a joke. He’s destroying our economy, and owns construction businesses here?!?! #nashvilleexplosion #nashvillebomb pic.twitter.com/QlETmnC9Gb
— 🇺🇸TN Patriot 🇺🇸 (@dcbassNash) December 25, 2020
Note what the Twitter user who posted the clip above wrote about Cooper “destroying our economy.” The mayor has been responsible for “some of the most restrictive limitations” on small businesses in the country, according to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican.
Back in September, Lee wrote a public letter slamming the mayor for demanding more coronavirus relief money after having spent barely any of the first round of relief money on helping the small businesses he’d hurt.
“I must share my deep concern that, of the $93 million in Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars spent to date by your administration, only $5.7 million has been budgeted for relief to businesses,” Lee reportedly wrote.
“This concern is heightened by the ongoing challenges ahead for Nashville business owners who have already endured some of the most restrictive limitations on commercial activity, as well as a recently enacted property tax increase.”
While it’s not clear how Cooper responded to the letter, it’s presumed his response involved a snide chuckle.
Coupled with his latest faux pas, the public’s perception of him doesn’t appear to be getting any better.
I have never in my life seen someone laugh about something like their city being bombed. What on Earth.!!! Praying for you all.
— President Elect RiverShark (@CindySaulter2) December 25, 2020
From Texas: I saw the interview as well and couldn’t believe how he was laughing and acting so unconcerned really. I feel very sorry for the residents of Nashville.
— WacoRaider (@RaiderWaco) December 25, 2020
Almost giddy- I have never seen a leader respond this way after a tragic event. Unbelievable!
— kokelleyfnp (@kokelleyfnp) December 25, 2020
John Cooper is way over his head. Totally incompetent, and his behavior this morning was unbelievable.
— LaLa (@lacoolio1) December 26, 2020
Just when I thought we were done seeing and listening to all the Barney Fife like politicians now that the election is over we have a new clown in the house! I have no doubt this idiot has aspirations of seeking a higher office. What a leader this clown is!
— Zoe n Lucy (@Lucy_Daisyk9) December 26, 2020
There is something seriously wrong with this guy. Finding any humor in this is frankly a sign of mental illness or, worse, blinding stupidity.
— TrumpRepublican (@TrumpRepublica3) December 26, 2020
Some defended Cooper, arguing that perhaps his awkward laughter had been the result of him feeling shocked and overwhelmed.
I don’t care for him, but I have a bad coping mechanism where I laugh at inappropriate times. Just putting it out there.
— Sara Danker (@BionicBacon) December 25, 2020
A portion of his downtown has exploded. My guess is that he is still in shock.
— Justright2427 (@Joyous6802) December 26, 2020
Panic laughter is a well documented thing. People used the same line of attack against a scared father in Sandy Hook. Be better than this, especially on Christmas. Would you want to be him today?
— Mollie Davis (@davism0llie) December 25, 2020
That seems like a fair enough point, though it still doesn’t explain his almost giddy eagerness to lock down his constituents and also hit them with a property tax.
Even with the pandemic ongoing and families and businesses struggling, Cooper called for a 32 percent property tax hike last April. Then after implementing the tax, he threatened to cut spending to local school and fire department budgets if locals repealed the increase during a city-wide vote scheduled for Dec. 5th.
He eventually got his way, notwithstanding when a Nashville judge blocked the referendum and said the tax is here to stay.
Meanwhile, despite locking down businesses, Cooper had no qualms about attending a crowded “I Will Breathe” rally after Minneapolis criminal suspect George Floyd’s death last spring. He even went so far as to encourage others to attend the “protest.”
I urge all of my colleagues in the Metro Council to join me at today’s “I Will Breathe” rally. This is an especially critical time for all of us, as Metro’s leaders, to show up and listen to Black voices speaking out from across Davidson County. pic.twitter.com/6PToIvbW6y
— Mayor John Cooper (@JohnCooper4Nash) May 30, 2020
During the so-called “rally”/”protest”, the Nashville Metro Courthouse was set on fire.
— Milo™ (@chasbottom) June 1, 2020
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