Speakers call for Columbia city manager to resign

8 months 1 week 1 day ago Tuesday, February 06 2018 Feb 6, 2018 Tuesday, February 06, 2018 3:45:00 PM CST February 06, 2018 in News
By: Kyreon Lee, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - Some speakers at the Columbia City Council meeting called for the resignation of City Manager Mike Matthes Monday night. 

At the 2018 Columbia Values Diversity breakfast in January, Matthes' speech received a lot of criticism because he described himself as being uncomfortable as a white man. 

Race Matters, Friends member Suzanne Bagby addressed Matthes Monday night.

"He needs to take those feelings and go elsewhere with those because he cannot manage our city. Our city is already damaged," she said.

At the January event, Matthes' was called to the stage to give a speech about poverty in Columbia. He focused on the effort to reduce the unemployment rate among African-Americans and economic inequality. 

"He disrupts and does distractions to get away from the whole point that there is racism in Columbia and it is alive well," Bagby said Monday.

Former Missouri NAACP President Mary Ratliff spoke in support of Matthes. 

"We have a very forthcoming city manager who is helping make that happen," she said. 

During the January speech, Matthes projected images of five young African-American people who had on casual clothing.

"I'm going to be very honest with you, as a white man, these make me a little uncomfortable," he said.

He then described each casual picture on the screen:

  • "In the upper left, he's flashing a gang sign."
  • "The guy in the middle looks like he is going to rob a bank."
  • "In the upper right, I'm not sure which gender he or she is. I'm befuddled."
  • "Lower left, Why is he so angry?
  • "In the lower right, that's totally inappropriate dress in the professional environment, if you're looking for a job."

"That's my bias," Matthes said. 

He then projected images of what the five people in the photos actually do. One was a U.S. solider, another a firefighter, a banker, a doctor and a graduate. 

"Now, I'm not so uncomfortable anymore."

Matthes said he was trying to make the point that everyone has biases and local people in business should hire locally.

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