A Democratic candidate for Amherst City Council’s Fourth Ward seat is facing accusations of racism ahead of the May 7 primary.
Candidate David Kovacs posted a picture to his personal Facebook page of an anti-poaching ranger in the Congo standing in front of two gorillas. It was Kovacs’ caption of the photo, however, that drew criticism.
“To all local rappers. I found your album cover,” Kovacs said, prompting criticism from his competitor, Andrew Flynn.
“I found the screenshot to be insensitive. It’s unfortunate that this was posted. I found it hard to understand the rationale of keeping [the post] up,” Flynn told The Morning Journal.
Kovacs maintains that he simply thought the photo would make a “cool album cover,” and criticized people who might find it racist.
“No, I don’t see that. But I can see how someone who has those thoughts in their head might think that,” he told The Chronicle. “Also, I know two rappers and they’re both white.”
He then issued a statement to local media outlets after they began to pick up the story and questioned “the motivation of anyone that would send this.”
“I would also like to point out that their thought process is disturbing,” he said. “They have called me racist and that is something I take very seriously. I am appalled that this has even come up and I’m embarrassed that someone would think this was a good idea. It makes me question what is hiding in their heart if this is what they see from an anti-poaching photo.”
His statement concluded by noting that he has friends who “are people color” who are “defending” him, and insisted that there were “no racial connotations” to the post.
“It’s crazy to me, not even something that popped in my mind. This is just bananas to me,” he added.
Amherst Democratic Association President Martin Heberling said he does “not approve of Kovacs’ post on his personal Facebook page” and hopes that Kovacs will “eventually see the error in his judgment.”
Jeanine Donald, executive director of the Elyria YWCA, encouraged Kovacs to attend a conference put on by Lorain County’s Community Anti-Hate Task Force.
“It’s too harsh to call Mr. Kovacs a racist, but the intent behind the caption has roots in the racist stereotypes that propagated the belief that African Americans were less than human,” she told The Chronicle. “Dehumanizing a race of people is what leads to genocide and gas chambers. Racist? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t want him representing my interest in an elected capacity.”
Kovacs posted an apology to his Facebook page Wednesday, saying he was sorry for “any embarrassment” he has caused.
“Thanks for the support. Most people don’t get to hear the impact they have made in people’s lives,” he said. “But this week you guys have had my back and it means more than you could ever know.”
As of Thursday evening, Kovacs either deleted the Facebook posts or tightened the privacy settings on his account as they were no longer visible to the public.
– – –
Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Anti-Poaching Rangers” by Weird World; “David Kovacs” by David Kovacs.