MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Update: Sat 12:05 AM, Dec 30, 2017
Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, Why did you give Louis Farrakhan a Key to the City?
Long before racial tensions spiked across the country in 2017, there's been an unspoken, but oft recognized, racial divide in Monroe. And it's not only an intangible one, but also a physical one: a north side and a south side. So why did the mayor, in the name of the city of Monroe, honor a man who leads an organization that's been designated a hate group for its anti-Semitic, homophobic, and black separatist views?
Instead of answering a question many residents want answered, the mayor called us out at a city council meeting. He's also called us unprofessional in our pursuit to get the answers you want. So we have a message for you and Mr. Mayo.
You can watch or read our full response to Mayor Mayo by clicking the following link.
Update: Thu 10:40 AM, Dec 28, 2017
At Wednesday night's city council meeting, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo said it's time that city leaders and the public openly discuss the racial issues facing Monroe. He said he reached the decision after experiencing the controversy surrounding his decision to honor Louis Farrakhan in mid-December.
Mayor Mayo said, "What's so strange to me is all the hoopla over this. And as I said when I gave an interview, an exclusive interview, to one of the media outlets... that on one side, on the north side, people were appalled and said that. And on the south side, some people were chiding me because I didn't call them in to meet with Mr. Farrakhan."
Mayor Mayo went on to say that he's concerned with the racism that's surfaced in the Monroe community since this story broke. He issued a challenge to residents who are aggressive online but never show up to public meetings.
"I'm going to call a meeting. And we're going to see who's bold enough to come to talk about race.... and who's going to hide behind Facebook and all other types of social media, but not show their faces."
Mayo went on to criticize KNOE's coverage of the events surrounding Farrakhan's visit and our persistence to get the answer to one question many people still want him to answer: Why did you give Farrakhan the key to the city?
For now, Mayor Mayo is refusing to answer that question.
Original: Wed 6:40 AM, Dec 27, 2017
More controversy in Monroe over Louis Farrakhan's recent visit to the city and what some people say it represents: a city divided.
Before a city council meeting Wednesday night, multiple Monroe residents called on Mayor Jamie Mayo to apologize for publicly honoring a man who has long served as the leader of a designated hate group. Mayo gave Farrakhan a Key to the City to last week, a symbolic honor naming Farrakhan a friend of Monroe. The move upset many people who don't think the city should be associated with someone like Farrakhan.
What's so controversial about Louis Farrakhan? Many people will tell you it is his position as the leader of an American-based group called "Nation of Islam". The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate speech and actions, has designated the Nation of Islam a hate group. The Southern Poverty Law Center is an independent organization which has spent decades fighting for civil rights. The group has been instrumental in fighting against hate speech of all kinds, most notably that of the KKK. They are considered an authority on hate groups in the United States.
Before the city council meeting, a few people stood outside with signs on which had been scrawled things like “stop the hate” and "racial hate divides". One protester told KNOE, "[Mayo] needs to apologize to Catholics, all white people, and all Christians in this city." Another said, "Without a doubt, there is a racial problem and Farrakhan just adds to that. And that's one reason we stand against him."
KNOE has asked Mayor Mayo several times why he decided to give Farrakhan a key to the city. So far, he has refused to answer.