ABOVE PHOTO: West York Mayor Charles Wasko
YORK, Pa.–The mayor of a small central Pennsylvania town is being asked to resign over racist posts on his Facebook page, including two depicting apes with captions referring to President Barack Obama and his family, and one referring to lynching.
One image from June on the Facebook page of West York Mayor Charles Wasko is of a wagon or wheelbarrow full of orangutans, including the caption, “Aww … moving day at the Whitehouse has finally arrived.’’ The wheelbarrow has the slogan “Kenya or bust’’ on it.
A picture of a grinning chimpanzee doesn’t have a caption, but a comment posted on the mayor’s page Feb. 14 says, “Most think it is Obama’s picture……sorry its Moochelles baby photo’’– an apparent reference to first lady Michelle Obama.
Wasko was elected mayor of the borough of about 4,500 residents, about 100 miles west of Philadelphia, in 2013. Running unopposed as a Republican, he tallied 202 votes, against 78 write-in ballots for other candidates.
Council members on both sides of the political aisle called for Wasko to resign after the York Dispatch first reported the posts Wednesday.
Reached by phone Thursday, Wasko said he is the victim of a “witch hunt,’’ and would provide more details at a later time. He then hung up.
At one point Thursday, the mayor posted on his Facebook page that he refuses to be politically correct, the York Daily Record reported.
Sandra Thompson, who heads an NAACP office in the county, said the posts were “obviously ignorance and racism.’’
Now that they are aware of the posts, “we will be seeking to take action, because his obvious bias against Black people has an effect on all his constituents, which he seems to forget includes Black people,’’ Thompson said.
The borough’s population was about 86 percent white in the 2010 census and 12 percent Black.
Wasko isn’t paid as mayor and votes only to break ties on the council. But he also oversees the police department in the borough, where the acting chief, Matthew Millsaps, said he was “disturbed’’ by the images.
“This in no way reflects the ideology of this department,’’ Millsaps said, noting the department has a Hispanic man and Black woman among its eight officers.
Council President Shawn Mauck said he doesn’t know what to say about the posts. “I kind of want to throw up,’’ he said.
Councilwoman Shelley Metzler was more blunt. “I would punch him in the mouth if I could get away with it,’’ she said.
The council members planned to ask Wasko to resign at their meeting the following Monday.