When writing what would become a controversial Facebook post pertaining to the Black Lives Matter movement, Estacada Mayor Sean Drinkwine said his intent was to respond to concerns about violence.
On Monday, June 22, Drinkwine wrote in the Estacada Neighborhood Watch Uncensored Facebook group that "I would not and have not condoned these BLM Vigils in our community. All city staff and I are working tirelessly to shut these Vigils down. … Our number one concern is to keep our city safe and free from conflict."
In an interview with the Estacada News on Thursday, June 25, Drinkwine said he posted in response to concerns that had previously been raised in the Facebook group.
"I didn't mean it in the way it came across," Drinkwine said. "I wanted people to understand that there wouldn't be any violence, and I was trying to make it to where they could see that I was trying to shut down the violence. But I lost concern for the other part of this picture, and that's where I dropped the ball."
Drinkwine deleted the post the same day and has apologized several times, including during a City Council meeting on Monday evening and in a written statement released Wednesday, June 24.
"I posted a statement on a social media site that I sincerely regret. My honest intent was to reassure people and let them know that our beautiful city was safe," Drinkwine wrote. "Unfortunately, I hastily prepared the post, and I chose my words poorly. I tried to demonstrate responsiveness to community concerns, but I badly missed the mark."
He also apologized to protestors, and to city staff for incorrectly stating they were working to stop the vigils.
The fallout from Drinkwine's initial post was swift. Though multiple comments on social media have been in support of him, others are critical. He disconnected his cell phone number, which was included in the post, because of the number of messages he was receiving.
One city councilor — Drinkwine declined to say who — has told him he should resign. Drinkwine said he plans to remain in office and run for reelection this November.
"I have done something wrong. I understand that, but I am so very sorry for that. And in that, I represent this community and always have in its best interest, and I will continue to do so under my watch," he said. "I've spent my entire life invested in making Estacada the best little city it can be. I am not a paid position. I do this because I love where I live, and I love the people in it. I always have, and I always will. … I wanted to fight for the rights of every person, and that included every color."
In response to Drinkwine's post, organizers of the STAND UP Movement in neighboring Sandy have planned a march against racism from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, June 26. Participants will meet at Estacada High School, 355 N.E. Sixth Ave., and march to City Hall, where members from both communities will speak.
Drinkwine said he would not be attending the march because he doesn't want his presence to take away from the Black Lives Matter cause.
"This march is very important to all sides. It proves that we are a community that loves Black lives, and we will support that," he said. "I don't want them to focus on me as the reason why this has all happened. I want them to focus on the fact that it's a peaceful march and that's what they're there for. Because I become the focal point of this whole thing and that's not what it's about. It's about Black Lives Matter."
He also noted that he hasn't been to the Saturday demonstrations in Estacada focused on the Black Lives Matter movement, and he wishes he had spoken to organizers prior to writing on Facebook.
"I think that would have made this all better. I could have met with leaders prior to this, and sat down with them to figure out what Estacada could do to make this a better event," Drinkwine said. "I would have known what to say because I would have known what was happening and been a part of it."
Drinkwine added that he's also hesitant to attend the Saturday demonstrations.
"At this point, I'm asking for forgiveness, and they have to forgive me before I will impose myself on any situation," he said.
Reflecting on the experience, he said it has further opened his eyes to racial
"I did not realize there was such a problem, I did not. But I do now," he said. "I will do my best to be better at that and bring that to the table and start having those conversations."
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