Human Relations Commission distances itself from Barbee

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News 12 at 6o'clock, September 13, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Richmond County's Human Relations Commission is distancing itself from its former chairman, David Barbee.

"We want to clarify that Mr. Barbee is not a member of the HRC and we do not condone the email that he wrote," the Human Relations Commission said in a statement today, severing ties with the group's former chairman.

Some say Mr. Barbee has often called upon his former chairman title in an attempt to shield himself from reprisal.

In an unanimous decision Thursday the commission decided to set the record straight. The current chair of the commission, Robert Smalley, said, "[Barbee] has not been to a meeting since January of 2006."

Michael McCullen, a concerned citizen, is calling for more. "They seem to be more concerned with distancing themselves from Mr. Barbee than addressing the content of the email," he said.

And he's not alone. "It had no teeth in it," said Rev. Clarence Grier, president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Augusta. "The real issue is racism."

"I'm not suggesting it's racism," McCullen said. "I'm talking about economic criticism and capitalist exploitation."

Who knew an email could cause such controversy?

Mr. Barbee spent two years as chair of the Human Relations Commission. He says it was time well spent. "I'm proud of my service and that's what needs to be said. They wouldn't have elected me if they didn't have confidence in me."

That's a debatable point, but there is one thing not up for debate. Just last week, Mayor Deke Copenhaver called for an end to it all. "I am getting out the word to any leaders within my voice: we have all got to work together to resolve this issue quickly because it is a black eye for the community."

"My record speaks for itself and I don't have to explain it," Barbee said.

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