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Marion delegates voice support for Danielle Walker following ‘satanic’ comment by Fairmont councilman

MORGANTOWN — Marion County’s three state Democrat delegates voiced their support on Monday for Monongalia County Democrat Delegate Danielle Walker following statements made on Facebook by Fairmont City Councilman Barry Bledsoe.

Marion Delegate Mike Caputo, Linda Longstreth and Michael Angelucci said in a joint statement: “We stand with our colleague Delegate Danielle Walker who was recently attacked on social media by Fairmont City Councilman Barry Bledsoe. Councilman Bledsoe has been using his social media platform to make racist, discriminatory remarks. 

“He was totally out of line, and his remarks are unacceptable,” thy said. “Councilman Bledsoe was voted into office to serve all of the residents in his district, not just the ones who look and vote like him. Delegate Walker deserves an apology for his remarks. We proudly stand with our colleague- and will stand with her at tomorrow’s city council meeting.”

Fairmont City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Danielle Walker headshot
Danielle Walker

Bledsoe on his Facebook page first referred to Sen. Kamala Harris – Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden’s pick for vice president – as a “hoe,” a misspelling of the slang term “ho,” a misspelling he acknowledged in later posts.

Bledsoe publicly apologized for that statement during a Thursday meeting at a church in Barrackville and removed the statement from his Facebook page.

But then he posted a link to an article from The Dominion Post about Walker’s support for a Black Lives Matter crosswalk coming to Arch and Green streets in the Greenmont neighborhood in Fairmont.

A number of people posted their opposition to the crosswalk design and Bledsoe commented, “If you don’t get rid of that satanic Danielle Walker you might as well give up!”

In a Monday phone interview, Bledsoe said again that he publicly apologized for the Harris comment not only on Facebook but to everyone at the church.

He said that his “satanic” comment about Walker had nothing to do with the race – she is African American – or the crosswalk. It addressed actions she’s taken as a delegate, he said.

He cited in particular her support last year for a proposed Drag Queen Story Time aimed at young children at the Morgantown Public Library. “People need to vote her out,” he said.

“I’m really frustrated that her and this big bandwagon has turned this into a racial issue,” he said. The word “satanic” is not a racial slur and he would have used it on a white male politician who supported such a thing.

“I’m frustrated that this is going on,” Bledsoe said. “It seems like politicians trying to make a political point of it.”

He said he’s been labeled a racist because Biden made the race and gender of his VP pick a priority over any qualifications. Biden excluded all black and white males and all white females. “I care about the qualifications.”

Speaking of Walker he said, “I don’t have an issue with her color in any way shape or form. I have an issue with her politics.”

Bledsoe took down his Facebook account on Monday. He said he tried to do it previously but did it wrong, found out on Monday and tried again.

At least one bogus account mocking Bledsoe has been put up and turns up now when searching for Bledsoe himself. The bogus page is called Barry BledsHoe.

The Dominion Post also spoke with Walker by phone. She said Bledsoe’s statement that his comment was connected to the story hour and not the crosswalk story is false, because the story hour issue was last year and his comment was posted with the BLM post.

“His words were very racist,” she said. They were derogatory of elected women of color and she is the only black elected official in North Central West Virginia.

Social media posts indicate people plan to attend the Fairmont Council meeting to call for Bledsoe’s resignation. Bledsoe said he will not be there because he is recovering from COVID-19. He has attended prior meetings virtually and hopes to do so Tuesday.

Walker said she will be there to address council.

Walker said the same principals apply to elected officials from the city up to the federal level. “We are all colleagues. We all represent the citizens and the people of West Virginia.

“We have to lead by example,” she said, and listen, learn and be respectful of each other. “Words do hurt. Words do play with people’s integrity. Words do cause harm and threaten. … I stand by and will always say Black Lives Matter.”

Walked said she believes in “One Love” in thoughts, heart, words and actions and the phrase doesn’t negate that all lives matter.

Tweet David Beard @dbeardtdp Email dbeard@dominionpost.com