Wes Bellamy Apologizes, Faces Support and Criticism at Meeting
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -
Charlottesville Vice-Mayor Wes Bellamy addressed a crowd at Monday’s City Council meeting over previous, inappropriate social media postings.
Bellamy says he is a changed man but that didn't stop some people from coming out to protest him.
"I'm not looking to defend or justify my words as they are indefensible. And at 30, they do not reflect the man that I am or the things I believe today. I want to be very clear, I owe this city and this area, everything - including an apology," Bellamy said.
Bellamy protestors were met with a swell of supporters filling council chambers, the hallways of City Hall, and an overflow room. But, the man at odds with Bellamy is still calling for his ouster.
Jason Kessler, the man leading the charge against Bellamy, spoke to council, advocating for Bellamy to be removed from office. During an interview, Kessler said he was inspired to dive into Bellamy's social media but did not do the same for any other councilors, who all happen to be white.
"Wes Bellamy has been the most vocal on these racial issues. Wes is always race, race, race, race and I started paying attention," Kessler said.
Large numbers of people, including Nikuyah Walker, showed up with anti "alt right" signs and "we support Wes" banners.
"The way that he was attacked for his past mistakes is problematic," Walker said.
Walker says Bellamy is just like everyone else and deserves forgiveness. "We do things. We are sorry. We have regret. But, do we owe everyone who we encounter an apology for something we said? Then I don't think so."
Bellamy says he's pushing forward on council. "I hope that you will judge me on my actions today but not the words whilst still growing up as a man."
At the end of Kessler's public comments, he looked straight at Bellamy and said, "Your days are numbered.” Another councilor mentioned the threatening words to the extra police officers stationed at the meeting.
UPDATE: Tuesday, Kessler told NBC29 the 'your days are numbered' was strictly in reference to Bellamy's political future.
Full statement from Wes Bellamy:
I want to be very clear: I owe this city, and this area everything – including an apology. I am sorry for the tweets that I sent in my early to mid 20s that were made public last week. I am not looking to defend or justify my words. They are indefensible, and at 30, they do not reflect the man that I am or the things I believe today. I hope that you will judge me for my actions today – and not the words I wrote while still growing as a man.
For the past week my past mistakes have generated negative news stories in press outlets across the state, and I am sorry that my words caused such pain to so many. They are no longer what I believe, and I would give anything to take them back. But I can’t. I can only continue to demonstrate through my actions and my words today that I am a changed man.
I have grown and learned a lot since moving to Charlottesville. The elders and the people of this city helped raise me. Charlottesville helped me grow from an arrogant young man who had too little respect for women, to the married man and father of three daughters who has the utmost respect for all women. This city helped me grow from the angry young man with limited experiences with others outside of my comfort zone, to the leader who's willing to stand up and fight for the rights and civil liberties of my brothers and sisters from the LGBTQ community, and anyone whose rights are in jeopardy.
And it is this city, the city of Charlottesville who supported the coat drives, the turkey giveaways, the community cookouts, the vigils, the rallies, the seminars, the town halls, and every other effort I have made in the past four years to bring this community together. The proudest moment of my life, marrying my wife Ashlee, took place here in this city, not elsewhere. And It is this city that I hold so dear, that unfortunately I have let down.
My evolution as a man didn't stop in my 20s, and I promise that the strength, the courage, the determination to be a better leader that you have taught me will also continue. I vow to continue to grow every day, and continue to be the man that you want me to be. I vow to continue to grow into the leader that you need me to be. I will work with you all to make this city a better place. I've truly learned the importance of humility and grace, and I am thanking God for Growth. I appreciate you, I love you, and I thank you for your support.
Charlottesville City Council
Virginia State School Board
Sent from my iPad, please excuse typos.
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