Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer on Saturday jumped on the bandwagon of voices calling for the removal of a white county commissioner who told a Black woman on Tuesday that he’s part of the “master race.”
“Racial and discriminative language have no place in our society, and most especially when spoken by someone holding a public office. The inappropriate remarks made by Leavenworth County Commissioner Louis Klemp are unacceptable and do not reflect the values of the county which he represents. As such, I call on him to step down as County Commissioner,” Colyer, a Republican, said in a statement posted on Facebook.
The racist remark came at a Nov. 13 board meeting after city planner Triveece Penelton explained development options for the County Road 1 corridor south of Tonganoxie, The Kansas City Star explained about the context to Klemp’s comment, which was recorded and posted on the county’s YouTube channel.
He was dissatisfied with the African-American consultant’s presentation.
“I don’t want you to think I’m picking on you, because, we’re part of the master race,” Klemp said, pointing to his own teeth. “You know, you got a gap in your teeth, you’re the masters, don’t ever forget that.”
News of Klemp’s remark ignited widespread condemnations on social media.
By Friday morning, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas added its weight to the storm brewing against Klemp, calling his comment “abhorrent.”
“Mr. Klemp has a First Amendment right to express himself—just as his community has a right to hold him accountable to his toxic words and the ideas behind it,” the organization said in a statement posted to Facebook. “At a time when hate-based violence is on the rise across the country, we must make it clear that we stand together as diverse communities and that we do not tolerate hate-based speech, especially not in local government.”
Several local lawmakers also denounced Klemp’s master race statement, calling for his resignation.
Apparently, the governor saw which way the wind was blowing. It’s unclear what steps Colyer will take if the commissioner refuses to resign.