A Louisiana man verbally laid into a local school board member in a caught-on-camera confrontation after she was busted shopping online during a hearing to rename a school dubbed in honor of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Activist Gary Chambers forcefully tore into board member Connie Bernard at Thursday’s East Baton Rouge Parish School Board meeting during a discussion on whether to rename the school.
“I had intended to get up here and talk about how racist Robert E. Lee was, but I’m going to talk about you, Connie,” Chambers told Bernard, video shows. “Sitting over there shopping while we’re talking about Robert E. Lee. This is a picture of you shopping while we’re talking about racism and history in this country.”
Bernard’s actions show she didn’t “give a damn” about the topic, Chambers said, while urging her to step down immediately.
“You should walk out of here and resign and never come back because you are the example of racism in this community,” Chambers said. “You are horrible.”
Bernard, however, took issue with Chambers’ claim, telling The Advocate Friday that she was caught looking at a pop-up advertisement that neglected to close at the time, although several witness disputed that assertion, the outlet reports.
Bernard, for her part, apologized in a statement released Friday for comments she made a week earlier that anyone critical of the school’s name “should learn a little more about” its namesake.
In addition to being publicly upbraided by Chambers, Bernard was criticized for her comments by three board members, the newspaper reports.
The school board, meanwhile, voted unanimously to come up with a new name for the 61-year-old high school. In 2016, the board voted to remove the “Robert E.” portion of the school’s name, with Bernard being one of the five members to vote to keep Lee in its name, the newspaper reports.
A new name is expected to be selected by the board on July 16.