Lawmaker apologizes for forwarding racially charged message |

Lawmaker apologizes for forwarding racially charged message

DENVER ” A Colorado lawmaker apologized Friday for sending an essay to friends and constituents that accuses blacks of waiting for the government to bail them out from problems caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Rep. Jim Welker, R-Loveland, offered a “sincere apology” for forwarding the article he said was racially charged.

“It was poor judgment on my part, very poor judgment,” he said. He said he didn’t read the essay very carefully before sharing it with colleagues via e-mail.

The essay by The Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, who is black, said most people would protect their families, then return to rebuild their communities, but “if you’re black and a hurricane is about to destroy your city, then you’ll probably wait for the government to save you.”

He said “all Americans must tell blacks this truth. It was blacks’ moral poverty, not their material poverty, that cost them dearly in New Orleans.”

Peterson did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. On the floor of the Colorado House, a number of lawmakers denounced the essay, some of them in tears.

Rep. Rosemary Marshall, D-Denver, called it “very devastating, very derogatory.”

“It was absolutely the most racially motivated hatred I’ve ever seen,” she said.

Rep. Terrance Carroll, D-Denver, said as a black, he knows discrimination firsthand.

“To see an e-mail like that just reminds me of the worst instincts of this nation. I think this body needs to respond to this bigotry and hatred,” he said.

House Minority Leader Mike May, R-Parker, reminded legislators that the Republican Party was founded in freedom.

“The images and ideals of my party are not about racism,” he said.

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