Hal Marx / Source: WDAM

Mississippi mayor refuses to resign after controversial George Floyd comments


PETAL, Miss. (WDAM) - Petal Mayor Hal Marx refused a request to resign over comments he made on social media regarding the death of George Floyd.

Petal aldermen called for Marx’s resignation Thursday night during a special-called meeting to address the situation. The Board of Aldermen unanimously approved a resolution to censure Marx over his comments and tabled motions to reduce the mayor’s salary and adopt a social media policy.

Floyd died while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minn.

The video shows Floyd, a black man, yelling “I can’t breathe” repeatedly while a white Minneapolis police officer pinned him down with a knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes.

Floyd appeared to lose consciousness in the video, though the officer kept his knee on his neck for minutes after Floyd stopped moving.

Marx commented on the incident on Facebook and Twitter Tuesday night. His initial post on Twitter asked, “Why in the world would anyone choose to become a #Police Officer in our society? #backtheblue #ThinBlueLine.”

He went on to say in another tweet that he did not see anything unreasonable in the video.

"If you are talking about the incident in MN, I didn't see anything unreasonable. If you can say you can't breathe, you're breathing. Most likely that man died of overdose or heart attack. Video doesn't show his resistance that got him in that position. Police being crucified," the tweet read.

Four officers involved were fired, and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has called for the arresting officer to be criminally charged.

Petal Alderman Clint Moore read a statement on behalf of the board at the beginning of the meeting, saying the city wishes to embrace the diversity of Petal and condemned Marx’s comments for isolating members of the community.

“The Board of Aldermen feels he is out of touch with the citizens and unfit to continue in his capacity as mayor,” Moore said. “It is unacceptable for a leader in our community to make these remarks with little or no thought to the effects they will have on the very people which he leads.”

Marx responded to the statement, saying he wished he had said his comments differently. He said he didn’t mean to minimize Floyd’s death, but wished to say that people should wait for all the facts before rushing to judgment.

“I didn’t think through what I said as far as including some sympathy for Mr. Floyd, his family,” Marx said.

He went on to ask the aldermen to point out any of his comments that were racist, claiming the posts were misinterpreted.

Marx declined the request for resignation and said he would serve out his term, which ends July 1, 2021.

The Board tabled an agenda item requesting a salary reduction for the mayor to get an opinion from the attorney general. Aldermen also tabled a motion to introduce a social media policy to allow further research and discussion.

Attendees voiced disapproval of the mayor during the public comments portion of the meeting and repeatedly asked Marx to step down.