MANCHESTER, N.H. – Black Lives Matter Manchester and others on social media criticized At-Large Manchester Aldermen Joseph Kelly Levasseur regarding comments made on Facebook about recent events, prompting Mayor Joyce Craig and seven fellow aldermen to call for their resignation as “an embarrassment to the city.”
On May 30, Levasseur replied to a post by a man in Ashland encouraging individuals to come to South Willow Street and engage in vandalism in response to the recent death of African-American man George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police that has sparked protest across the country.
The man from Ashland, Daniel Zeron, is unaffiliated with Black Lives Matter, and was later arrested. His call to protest was set for the same night as a peaceful rally across town.
Levasseur says his response came out of concern stemming from the initial post and its impact on Manchester.
“These people are looking to start trouble, we don’t need that type of big-city looting, race-baiting, we don’t need their type of behavior in our city,” he said. “We don’t want to see buildings burnt to the ground, we don’t want to see police hurt or spit on. We don’t have a race problem in this country.”
Black Lives Matter Manchester Spokesperson Tyrell Whitted added that Levasseur has a long history of this type of behavior. Whitted reached out to Levasseur on the matter, leading to a heated exchange where Levasseur insulted Whitted. He added that since the post regarding South Willow Street was quickly deleted from Zeron’s page by Facebook at law enforcement request, Levasseur’s response and sharing of the post only served to exacerbate tensions originally brought forth by Zeron.
“I feel like it’s very racist behavior,” said Whitted. “This is not the behavior our elected officials should be doing.”
Whitted also took exception to a comment on Levasseur’s reply to Zeron’s post where Ward 8 Alderman Michael Porter said “big old plow truck” in response to another individual who wanted to clear out any individuals heeding Zeron’s call.
Porter told Manchester Ink Link that his comment was taken out of context and he recommended the plows as a large barrier to divert traffic and block side roads, comparable to those used during President Donald Trump’s visit to Manchester in February.
Whitted was skeptical of Porter’s response to Manchester Ink Link, believing that the implied meaning was different.
Mayor Joyce Craig on Friday issued the following statement, calling for the resignation of both Levasseur and Porter, calling them “an embarrassment to the people of Manchester.” Her statement is co-signed by six fellow aldermen:
In response to social media statements shared this afternoon, Mayor Craig and seven Manchester aldermen have released the following statement:
“The statements and actions of Alderman-at-Large Joseph Kelly Levasseur and Aldermen Michael Porter are an embarrassment to the people of Manchester and an insult to everyone who is working to bring positive change to our city, state, and nation. Elected officials using social media to spread racial slurs, call for protesters to be run down, and intimidate and bully residents who question their behavior is unacceptable. At a time when togetherness and understanding are more important than ever, it is sad to see elected officials promote violence and encourage division. This behavior is unbecoming of anyone, especially elected officials, and these Aldermen should apologize and resign so that we may continue to work to heal the wounds in our community.”
Mayor Joyce Craig
State Senator and Ward 1 Alderman Kevin Cavanaugh
Ward 2 Alderman Will Stewart
Ward 3 Alderman Pat Long
Ward 5 Alderman Tony Sapienza
Ward 10 Alderman Bill Barry
Ward 11 Alderman Norm Gamache
Alderman-at-Large Dan O’Neil
UPDATE – 4:30 p.m. 6/5 – During today’s COVID-19 press briefing, WMUR’s Adam Sexton asked New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu if he agreed with Craig’s call for the resignation of the two aldermen. Sununu replied he has not seen the comments, but upon hearing them, said, “I haven’t seen the exact comments so forgive me but I will say anyone using that kind of what was expressed here, that kind of language, that kind of sentiment, anything of a racial nature in a negative way, yes, there’s no place for that at all in anything we do.”