Following remarks made by a Killeen resident at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, a number of other residents have taken issue with those remarks.
During the citizens comments section of the meeting, James “Jack” Ralston voiced his objection to the notion of installing metal detectors at City Hall, which he equates to a form of gun control.
Without specifying a meeting date, Ralston said this issue came about mainly because of one particular City Hall meeting, which a number of Second Amendment activists attended.
The comment made at Tuesday’s workshop that has generated criticism is as follows:
“The whole concept of metal detectors is kind of abhorrent to me. I know what started it. A bunch of big, Black, scary dudes came into the city council chambers, and some other folks came in to express their First Amendment speech rights, and people got scared. But they didn’t do anything.”
Ralston, a vocal supporter of both the First and Second Amendment rights, clarified by phone on Wednesday that he thinks funding for street repair should come before funding for metal detectors, and that such detectors will prevent law abiding citizens, who are legally carrying guns, from attending City Hall meetings.
Councilmember Shirley Fleming, also a gun owner and a Second Amendment supporter, has expressed her support for installing metal detectors at City Hall. She also said on Tuesday that she has received approximately 25 phone calls from her constituents, many of whom feel Ralston’s comments were racist.
“It was not racist,” Ralston said on Tuesday, adding that he used shock value to make his point and the meeting attendees he mentioned were not to be feared.
“My point was that people overreacted — that these folks were ‘scary’ and the fact that they were Black made them even more ‘scary.’ My point was that just because someone is ‘big and scary and Black’ doesn’t’ mean they are going to attack you.”
Speaking in a historical context, Ralston also noted during the Tuesday meeting the work of anti-slavery activist Harriet Tubman and Civil Rights activist Ida B. Wells, in honor of Black History Month, both of whom were also supporters of the Second Amendment.
Councilmember Debbie Nash-King said on Wednesday that Ralston’s use of “scary, Black men” in his comments was “a terrible example.”
“In honor of Black History Month, he used examples of Black people carrying a gun or weapon,” Nash-King said. “Black History Month is the time to honor those who have contributed to making America a better place for all.”
Nash-King touched on the Second Amendment issues Ralston had raised.
“I do understand that he doesn’t want us to ban weapons from city council meetings, but he went about it the wrong way,” she said.