Michigan City mayor facing backlash for racially insensitive remarks in voicemail

Published: Mar. 10, 2021 at 12:13 AM EST
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MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (WNDU) - Some residents are calling for Michigan City Mayor Duane Parry to resign for making racially insensitive comments in a voicemail to a local pastor but apparently didn’t realize the phone was still recording.

“They want a [expletive] audience, you know? These Black guys all want a [expletive] audience,” said Parry in the voicemail that’s been widely reacted to on Facebook.

Pastor James Lane confirms he was the recipient of the voicemail shortly after 5 p.m. last Friday (Parry identifies himself in the first part of the message). He said the mayor appeared to be responding to a Facebook Live video Lane had posted about a panel he and other local pastors would be hosting that night regarding racially insensitive remarks Parry allegedly had made about Michigan City Police Chief Dion Campbell at a recent city council meeting.

At the meeting, Lane paraphrased the mayor as saying, “‘I am the mayor, and the chief works for me. I’m [Campbell’s] superior.’ It was those type of comments and that language and that tone...that disturbed us as African Americans because we understand that our ancestors, our foreparents, grandparents, and parents came through that Jim Crow-age, that Civil Rights-age, where White men always felt superior over, you know, African Americans.”

Lane said he and other organizations had tried multiple times last week to meet with Parry about the comments they say he made about Chief Campbell. Lane said Parry never responded to the meeting requests until the voicemail containing the expletives.

“He didn’t realize that, you know, the phone wasn’t hung up, and unfortunately, he said a very bigoted statement that is very hurtful and very harmful, especially to the community in which he serves,” Lane said.

On Tuesday, Lane helped organize a rally of reconciliation following Parry’s voicemail. Fellow ministers, including Apostle Vera Roberts, agree the mayor should step down from office.

“The Spiritual Task Force is calling for his resignation,” said Roberts.

Pastor Dwayne Hurt, among the pastors who sought to meet with Parry last week, agrees.

“If the head talks that way, it actually gives permission to anybody that’s under them to talk in the same manner,” remarked Hurt.

LaPorte resident and Michigan City native Nicole Messacar said the Republican mayor’s words were unacceptable.

“I think that if the people affected by that kind of behavior think he should resign, then I agree with the people that are affected by that kind of behavior - I support them, yes,” she said.

LaPorte County Republican Party Chairman Allen Stevens also spoke at the rally and said Parry’s voicemail comments “were reprehensible.”

“As the newly elected chairman of the LaPorte County Republican Party, I want everybody to know that his comments in no way, shape, or form reflect the viewpoints of the LaPorte County Republican Party, its officeholders, its members, or its candidates,” Stevens told 16 News Now.

When asked if Parry should resign, Stevens replied: “I think ultimately, at the end of the day, that’s a decision Mayor Parry is going to have to make. He’s going to have to have a - he’s going to have to have a ‘come to Jesus’ moment and evaluate what the right thing to do is.”

16 News Now briefly spoke with Parry on Tuesday night. He declined an interview but said he intended to do an interview in the future.

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