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Mayor Joe Meyer: It is my role to protect and advance the City of Covington’s reputation and vitality


EDITOR’S NOTE: Covington Mayor Joe Meyer made these comments at a meeting of the Covington Board of Commissioners; they follow a statement late Saturday in response to the harsh criticism the City of Covington was receiving on a national level over the videotaped confrontations involving Covington Catholic High School students in Washington DC.
 
At Tuesday night’s meeting of the Covington Board of Commissioners, the Mayor gave the following remarks on camera to clarify his Saturday statement, give context, and explain his motivation.

“Over the past 72 hours, our City has been dragged into a national shouting match outside our borders that has showcased the worst of human nature.
 
Over the past few days, we at the City of Covington have been cursed and threatened by email, over the phone, and in person.

Joe Meyer


 
Our City is collateral damage in an incident that had nothing to do with us, happened 500 miles away, and coincidentally involves a school that actually isn’t even in Covington.
 
Why are we being vilified?
 
One side thinks we promote racism, bigotry, intolerance and hatred.
 
The other side thinks we’re attacking kids.
 
In other words, we’re being found guilty of either condemning the students too harshly or not condemning them enough.
 
But if you read my actual words Saturday, it’s clear that condemning was not the motivation. My motivation was simple: Covington’s reputation was being attacked on a national level, and I stood up to defend it.
 
So I wrote about the City’s leadership in the areas of diversity.
 
And I suggested that what happened in Washington presents a timely opportunity for this region to come together and take a serious, sincere look at our core values as it relates to inclusion and diversity – an analysis that to date this region seems averse to doing.
 
I strongly believe in both of those points, and as Mayor of the Northern Kentucky region’s largest and most diverse community, I stand by them.
 
We in Covington woke up Saturday — two days before a federal holiday dedicated to diversity and unity – to see our reputation being eviscerated on a national and international level.
 
We were stunned.
 
My predecessors and I in both elected and appointed positions have worked hard for decades to create a place where all people are welcome. And I’m talking people of all skin colors … ethnic backgrounds … national origins … religious beliefs (or no religious beliefs at all) … income levels … sexual orientations … and gender identities.
 
Actions speak louder than words, and in Covington:
 
We are the only City in Northern Kentucky, for example, to have a Human Rights Ordinance that protects ALL people. 

Our management ranks at the City are incredibly diverse.
 
I just attended the opening of the Esperanza Latino Center in Covington – a new resource center for all of our residents with roots south of the Rio Grande.
 
And last summer I personally led the City’s Pride Parade March, in which many City leaders and employees participated. 
 
These actions reflect our core values.
 
Yes, we still have work to do.
 
Last Saturday morning, I participated in a public conversation at a small Catholic Church on 10th Street where we discussed how we can become a more welcoming place.
 
Ironically, it was when I was leaving that event that I started hearing the tidal wave of accusations that Covington was a place that fostered hatred, vitriol, bigotry, discrimination, and racism.
 
Because of a confrontation in which Covington wasn’t involved, people were talking about boycotts and asking things like: 

▪ Why would anybody ever invest in a City like this?
▪ Why would a business locate there?
▪ Why would anybody visit there, or shop there or eat there?
▪ Why would anybody move there?
▪ Why would anybody work there? 

This was a direct threat to the economic vitality, viability, and future of Covington, a threat whose premise runs contrary to our core identity.
 
So I defended the City. And I will continue to defend it.
 
And I was very careful not to join in the fury of the national storm that was focusing in a very personal and threatening way on these students.
 
Read my words.
 
And, by the way, I have quietly received many notes and phone calls of support from other leaders in the Greater Cincinnati region who complimented that message and our attempts to stay above the fray.

***
As for the students?
 
I feel terrible that they were duped into confrontation.
 
I hear that these students have been threatened and cursed.
 
That is simply wrong, and I urge people to stop it now.
 
What we can all agree on is the fact that this confrontation even happened damages us. And we can’t pretend that the damage to our reputations will just go away.
 
The scars will last a long time.
 
So yes, I feel bad for the young men, but I also feel bad for the institutions – the School, the Church, the City — the community, and all of us.
 
These young men got caught up in something much larger than themselves. And in many ways, so did we.
 
I’m not surprised by the reaction of parents who have jumped forward to defend their sons at all costs. Who amongst us wouldn’t defend our kids?
 
But people, national forces are at work here.
 
Outsiders, business firms, causes, visiting politicians, and organizations … they have all swept in to get us to push their ulterior motives.
 
We are being used as pawns in the national culture wars and the agenda of division. And these attempts will continue in the days ahead, unfortunately.
 
It does not benefit us to retreat into our political factions and take solace from the fact that like-minded people agree with us … and to hell with the rest of the people.
 
And we need to get past the rush of passion to have a meaningful conversation.
 
As for me, and as for Covington: my motive during this storm has always been singular and straight-forward: To promote and protect this City’s image and identity as a welcoming place to live, visit, and do business.

Joe Meyer is mayor of Covington.
 


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3 Comments

  1. Rick Schuler says:

    Joe Meyer last Saturday: “Videos of the confrontation are disturbing, discouraging, and – frankly – appalling. And they are rightfully inspiring a tidal wave of condemnation, “

    The mayor jumped on the virtue signaling bus based on a video from other virtue signaling agitators. The videos do inspire a rightful wave of condemnationt in a way the mayor should, but doesn’t, suggest.

    The mayor’s non-apology is disingenuous at best. It is not typical, political rhetoric. It is an attempt at justifying a rush to judgement at the expense of an innocent high school kid.

  2. Kevin M says:

    “Read my words.” < OK, sure thing!

    "teens from a local high school were filmed surrounding and mocking native Americans" – False

    "The disrespect shown to a Native American elder, who happens to be a Vietnam Veteran, was particularly offensive." – Oh really? The man never served in Vietnam, in fact he never saw a single day of combat, or even left American soil. All of that turned out to be lies. Secondly, you are offended by a child standing still when an adult walks up to him and shouts a song at him, but you are NOT offended that his buddy right next to him was taunting the students, saying "white people go back to Europe, this is not your land?" That's not offensive to you?

    "Videos of the confrontation are. . .rightfully inspiring a tidal wave of condemnation" – The only condemnation those videos rightfully inspired, was condemnation towards the Hebrew Israelites and the angry friend of Nathan Phillips who spewed hateful anti-white rhetoric at the children.

    "because of the actions of people who live in Northern Kentucky, our region is being challenged" – Wrong! Because of the media's incessant need to portray Trump supporters as racists, they dogpiled on a bunch of hapless kids who were waiting for a bus.

    We read your words, you're guilty as charged.

  3. Chris B. says:

    This Mayor could have defended his city and constituents without throwing the students under the bus. It was irresponsible for him to come out against them without knowing the fact(s)/context of the situation. It is COWARDICE to not apologize for false statements he made and still he places blame on the students, ” I feel terrible that they were duped into confrontation.” A real Mayor would admit his fault in the situation. He would bring the same level of condemnation to Mr. Phillips, the Media and the “Black Hebrew Israelites” as he did to the students. But maybe he is afraid some would call him “Intolerant”. This kind of double-standard breeds hatred and prejudice from all people groups. I don’t think MLK had a hidden agenda when he talked about us being judged by the “content of our character” and not the “color of our skin.”

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