PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The mayor of Pawleys Island made a brief statement Thursday afternoon on the fallout from what some called “racially-insensitive” remarks on Facebook.
Mayor Brian Henry made the statement with his wife, Sassy, at his side.
“I want to start out by saying, I’m profoundly sorry for those offended with my post, last week,” he said. “My comments were hurtful and insensitive. Before I could stand here in front of you today, I needed to self reflect and reach out for dialogue and understand. I spent 10 days listening and learning. The conversations I’ve had with friends, our staff, our community, and faith-based leaders, provided me with a deeper understanding of racial inequality, and the importance of diversity sensitivity, which is very much needed to heal Pawleys Island, Georgetown and our country.”
Henry commented on a recent Georgetown shooting that left a father and his stepdaughter dead and one other person wounded. In the now-deleted Facebook post, Henry allegedly said that because a black man was accused of shooting white people, there was no outrage.
A Moncks Corner man faces charges in the shooting. Investigators say a traffic accident led to the fatal incident.
Some called for Henry’s resignation because of the post, which also referred to the group Black Lives Matter as a “terror organization.”
The Henrys own Palmetto Cheese and some have also called for a boycott of that company.
Henry announced they would be creating a foundation to honor the memory of Veltrella Brown, whose image appears on Palmetto Cheese labels. The scope of the foundation, he said, will be to “improve race relations through community events and by providing scholarship opportunities for young people in the community, offering grants to help other aspiring entrepreneuers get their products on grocery store shelves and assisting local food bank programs.”
Henry denied social media rumors he said state that Brown was the creator of the recipe for Palmetto Cheese.
“The recipe for Palmetto Cheese is and always has been Sassy Henry’s recipe,” he said. “And that is the same recipe on grocery shelves today. Veltrella’s image was placed on the lid because we felt she embodied the love of cooking Lowcountry cuisine. And we have always had a private compensation contract with Veltrella and her family.”
He said the company has already begun a product rebranding effort. A statement posted on the company’s website states:
“We view elevating racial equality as one of our brand’s responsibilities. Palmetto Cheese is evolving and listening to the Black American community, our customers and business partners. We are committed to lead as an advocate for uniting the community, starting with a rebranding of our product identity.”
Addressing calls for a boycott of the company’s products, he asked people to consider the “hundreds of South Carolina jobs” that depend on its success.
“We humbly ask for your support,” he said.
Henry did not take questions from reporters at the conclusion of his statement.