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City Councilman taking heat for graphic Facebook post

By Kelli Stopczynski
Published On: Jan 27 2014 03:34:23 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 27 2014 06:22:06 PM CST

South Bend City Councilman Henry Davis is drawing some heat for posting a link and an extremely graphic picture on Facebook. WSBT's Kelli Stopczynski has the details.

SOUTH BEND -

A South Bend city councilman is under fire for something he put on Facebook. Henry Davis, Jr. (D – 2nd District) posted a link and an extremely graphic picture of a naked man and a dog.

Monday, he said he didn’t mean to be offensive.

‘I regret that an article posted to my Facebook page was mistakenly taken as an expression of my personal or political views,’ Davis, Jr. said in a written statement.

“It was outrageous. I mean, you felt like your head was going to explode,” said 2nd district constituent and grass roots leader Becky Kaiser. “How could somebody who’s supposed to be a responsible adult, let alone a political figure, think that was appropriate?”

When he posted it, Davis, Jr. said, ‘I am aware the picture is disgusting and way out of order…’ but he asked people to read the article attached to it. That article claims it is legal in the United States for military members to have sex with animals. He wanted people to know.

But the article isn’t true.

“From the graphic picture that was there, it was something to behold,” said Council President Oliver Davis. “I am concerned about that.”

Davis said he started getting calls and emails about the post almost immediately after it went up.

When asked if the thinks Davis, Jr. was out of line by publishing the post on a Facebook page called “Henry Davis Common Council,” Oliver Davis said he wasn’t yet ready to make an official comment.

Councilman Tim Scott (D- 1st District) said he’d also received calls from constituents.

“When we’re on Council, we’ve got to be aware of what message we're trying to convey to the citizens of South Bend and anything we're talking about, that it's for the improvement of the residents and the city of South Bend,” Scott said.

David Varner (R – 5th district) told WSBT, “It’s disappointing for any member of the council to have to answer [a question about a Facebook post involving bestiality] about anybody, let alone another council member.”

Councilwoman Valerie Schey (D - 3rd district) said she had no comment.

Davis, Jr. apologized in a post Monday morning saying, ‘Sorry if I offended any of you in my last post. I read, see and hear all kinds of stuff everyday and at this juncture in my life it doesn't surprise or offend me.’

“I don’t know what the solution is with Henry,” said Kaiser. “You can’t give him an olive branch, I don’t know what his frame of mind is – whether it’s so arrogant that he honestly thinks he's above it all?”

St. Joseph County Democratic Party chair Jason Critchlow told WSBT, “I’ve received contact from several people in the community. I have not seen [the post] but it sounds like it needs some looking into.”

Davis, Jr. said he uses Facebook and Twitter to inform and generate debate on all kinds of topics. It’s that debate, he said, that creates a virtual public square.

But the fallout from Sunday night’s controversial post may not be over. Davis, Jr. could get into big trouble with the council – including private sanctions or a public sanction, asking him to resign his post as councilman, said council attorney Kathy Cekanski-Farrand. 

That's only a possibility if someone files a formal complaint against Davis, Jr. with the City Clerk's Office. Those can be filed by other council members, taxpayers or anyone else. As of noon Monday, when the office closed, no one had filed any complaints, Farrand said. 

Oliver Davis told WSBT he spoke with each council member Monday about the situation, to make sure they’re aware. 


Henry Davis, Jr.'s entire response Monday afternoon: 

 regret that an article posted to my Facebook page was mistakenly taken as an expression of my personal or political views.

My Facebook and Twitter outlets are used as a platform to inform and generate discourse and debate on topics ranging from the mundane to the controversial.  The wide ranging commentary and views expressed on these mediums by “friends” and “followers” create a virtual public square.

My regular and consistent interactions with my constituents via meetings, phone calls, and emails help to inform my views on a range of issues. Most recently, I voted in favor of the resolution “Urging General Assembly to Reject the Proposed State Constitutional Amendment Permanently Defining Marriage.” Because of the ongoing dialogue I maintain with my constituents in South Bend, my understanding of the diversity of family, partnerships, and same sex equality has evolved.

As your 2nd District Common Councilman, I look forward to continuing to serve all  the constituents of the 2nd District.