‘This is disgusting and disgraceful,’ Portsmouth lawmakers react to councilman’s tweets


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The city’s Vice Mayor called the recent tweets of a fellow council member “disgraceful.”

“I’m so disappointed,” Vice Mayor Lisa Lucas-Burke wrote on Facebook Thursday, referring to a series of tweets from Portsmouth City Council Member Bill Moody, that include what some consider racist language.

“It’s so easy to hide behind a Twitter account, but when it’s time to discuss these issues face on, we don’t get far with the conversation,” Lucas-Burke went on to write. “I am disappointed beyond measure. His true colors are shining through.”

Moody, who has been on council since 1998, tweeted “I am really tired of hearing the term people of color,” Wednesday night.

In a phone interview with 10 On Your Side, Moody explained he was referring to the term four minority Democratic congresswomen use to describe themselves as a “squad.”

Moody, a known supporter of the president, sent out several tweets that showed support for Trump’s remarks about the congresswomen and addressed their allegations that the president’s tweets were racist. 

“My remarks were in response to people who are saying that criticism of these four for disparaging our country is racist,” Moody told 10 On Your Side. “If you or I go into a restaurant and we tell the chef that we don’t like the food and we don’t like the service, and we go back again and we say the same thing over and over, the chef is going to probably tell you, you should try another restaurant.”

Thursday, the local NAACP called for all elected leaders in the city to condemn Moody’s remarks.

Lucas-Burke’s mother, State Senator Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), didn’t hesitate.

Bill Moody has always shown Portsmouth voters his true colors and feels emboldened because he gets re-elected time and time again. His base supporters obviously appreciate his racist rhetoric just as much as they appreciate Donald Trump. Elections do have consequences, therefore; it is time for all the good people of Portsmouth who understand and know that we can do better to raise up and take a stand against the kind of overt racism we have experienced with Bill Moody over the years. As a former President of the Portsmouth Branch NAACP, I was fighting racism and injustice before our current president of #NAACP, James Patrick Boyd, was born and it’s unfortunate that we are still dealing with this kind of racism and intolerance in a city where the majority of citizens are PEOPLE OF COLOR. Thank you for scheduling the press conference young freedom fighter and know that I stand with you because the struggle is still real. #GoodJobJamesPatrickBoyd.

Portsmouth Mayor John Rowe said that as of Friday morning he had not seen the tweets or news coverage.

“I left Portsmouth early yesterday morning to travel to Richmond to attend two days of meetings of the Virginia Municipal League,” Rowe wrote in an email to WAVY.

In a follow up email he wrote:

I assume from your email that Councilman Moody is tweeting that he supports President Trump’s recent comments.  I do not. I am of the opinion that Trump’s recent comments are racial, and that they extremely “cross the line.”  They cross the line in so many different ways to include violating federal employment regulations on race and race relations.  His words are dividing the country and setting back race relations.

Whether or not an individual person supports Trump and his speech is not a City issue.  Please understand that I do not support Trump, his actions, and his speech (comments).

Mayor John Rowe, Portsmouth

NAACP chapter President James Boyd said that Moody’s tactics are hypocritical in that they don’t help improve the image of the city.

In April, Moody moved to no longer record public comments at Portsmouth City Council meetings as he believed taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be used to broadcast “many times things that aren’t factual, and paint our city in a bad manner.”

Moody has yet to respond to requests for comment on the NAACP’s claims.

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