SLC Lawmakers Reject Call For Curran's Resignation

SLC Lawmakers Reject Call For Curran's Resignation

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St. Lawrence County legislators voted not to ask Rita Curran to leave office after a controversial Facebook post.

She's facing backlash from fellow board members and some members of the public, while others are coming to her defense. 

"If you don't want people to think you're Islamophobic, don't say Islamophobic things," Martha Ellen of Canton said.

"This world's going to hell in a hand basket and you're trying to take somebody off their job for something stupid that happened on Facebook," said Will Gray of Brasher Falls.

A Facebook post shared by St. Lawrence County Legislator Rita Curran is what filled the seats at Monday night's county Legislature meeting.

The post shows a picture of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and reads "every time a Muslim stand up in Congress and tells us they are going to change the constitution, impeach our president, or vote for socialism, remember you swore you would never forget. They swore they would destroy us from within."

Many at Monday's meeting took the wording of the post as hate speech toward Muslims.

"These anti-Muslim statements made by our county legislator cannot be tolerated," said Waddington town supervisor Alex Hammond.

Others said they didn't think the post was directed at all Muslims, but at specific Muslim members of Congress.

"The way I read this, it was directed toward two political officials," Shannon Prentice of Louisville said. "Nowhere in there did I see across the board, Muslims on everything."

Before the meeting, dozens of St. Lawrence University students walked into the legislative building calling for Curran to resign.

"Your lack of remorse for your actions and your inability to take responsibility is why you should resign your position," student Sahar Delwar said.

"You young people stood outside and put on a demonstration. That's a God-given right under our Constitution for you people," Massena's Charlie Romigh said. "Rita Curran, whether you like it or not, should be allowed the same opportunity to have an opinion."

Some defenders of Curran feel the backlash from the post is an attack on free speech.

"This attempt to take Rita's rights away really concerns me," Shirley Rutherford of Hammond said, "and it should concern everyone."

"Is it protected speech? Absolutely. Is it hate speech? Absolutely," Diane Exoo of Canton said. "Bring us together. We're so tired of this divisiveness."

"Either we condone racial speech and hate speech or we condemn it," District 10 Legislator David Haggard said.

Haggard brought forth a vote to ask Curran to resign and while five board members did vote for it, another 10, including Curran, voted "no."

"On an individual basis, I like you," District 12 Legislator John Burke said. "I condemn what you said."

"I believe that this is the worst kind of character assassination," District 1 Legislator James Reagen said. "This is nothing more than a political attack."

"I would vote for censureship," District 9 Legislator Daniel Fay said, "but I'm not going to vote for resignation, which I believe our board, I believe, has no power to do."

Some legislators say Rita Curran has received threats since the post surfaced. 

She did not speak at the meeting.

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