An Indiana mayor has apologized after repeatedly referencing “unvaccinated a**holes” during a series of official meetings including one where it appeared that he was trying to say he was sorry for that very insult.
Mayor John Dennis of West Layfayette started off earlier this week by joking about the term during a city council meeting on Monday in remarks to assembled citizens and councilmembers about a note he discovered in a sheaf of documents.
“I have a note here that says we will not be closing down the city to protect the a**hole unvaccinated. I don’t know who put that in my notes. Probably me. Must have been a temperamental moment,” he said, according to WIBC.
“It’s the unvaccinated people that are letting us down,” Dennis went on to tell the meeting as he provided updates on the city’s COVID-19 positives and vaccine rates, adding that area hospitals were routinely at more than 90 percent capacity and that fewer than half of the city’s residents had gotten the jab.
“They generally don’t want to wear a mask. They generally, obviously, don’t want to get vaccinated, and generally speaking, they’re in a position to do much more harm than good,” he went on to claim, WIBC reported.
The mayor went on to say that he’s doing all he can to ensure he doesn’t have to order new business closures and shutdowns that would hurt residents as well as the local economy.
But that said, during a meeting on Wednesday, Dennis apologized but then doubled down on his colorful criticism of unvaccinated residents during a Tippecanoe County health department meeting.
“There’s still people that think that this is some sort of governmental power trip to try and control the population base and oddly enough they still think that this is something that is fabricated and doesn’t have any impact on their life at all, and they could not be more wrong,” he told those assembled.
“I lost my temper at a council meeting here recently and I referenced them as unvaccinated a**holes, and unfortunately that sometimes is accurate. It’s true,” he added.
However, the lack of real apology angered many of the same people who were upset at his original comments, prompting him to readdress the issue on Thursday.
“I think at the very least he owes the public an apology,” county resident Sarah Johnson told WIBC. “I think a resignation is not out of the question.”
“To be so aggressive and crass is just very poor leadership,” resident Candace Bright told the station. “To have the capacity to say that in public and not just immediately apologize just shows some hardness, some brittleness that I think is really disappointing.”
“My concern is just the standard it sets for the bullying will carry over to the students and teachers and staff at the schools,” Johnson noted.
In comments, he subsequently said that his remarks were “out of line” and “wrong,” while pledging that he would not use that language in the future.
The mayor’s comments come amid a new debate about masking and vaccines as the delta variant of the original COVID-19 strain makes its way across the country.
Federal health experts including Dr. Anthony Fauci have claimed much of the spread of infection now is occurring among unvaccinated people.
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