NAACP reacts to ex-mayor’s Confederate flag post

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DAVENPORT -- A former Quad City mayor and police lieutenant is coming under fire by the  local NAACP for controversial posts on his personal Facebook page.

"Those are racist statements. It's unacceptable to us, especially coming from a man that was a police officer here, and a former mayor. It's unacceptable," said Elder Dan Teague, an officer with the Davenport NAACP.

Ex-mayor Phil Yerington posted a picture of the Confederate flag with the words "Just posting this historical flag to offend the ignorant people," in response to the Charlottesville, Virginia incident.

Yerington wrote "Congratulations, libtwats. You've awoken the sleeping, southern, conservative white population. Better be very careful what you wish for! And there are millions of us standing behind them".

Yerington, who served as Davenport mayor for two terms, then called out black people who angrily responded to his posts.

"Black people contacting me have been ruthless. Threats, cussing me out, accusations! Damn. Im blocking them all. They're the true reason incidents like Virginia happen. White people are tired of it."

The posts are being shared on social media in the Quad Cities and around the country.

Rev. Ralph Kelly, an African American associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Davenport, says he voted for Yerington when he ran and won for mayor in the late '90s.

"Totally everything that he had portrayed to be is false, and that's kind of degrading to those who placed their trust in him. Those posts he displayed on the internet are basically racist statements," Rev. Kelly said.

Kelsey Marquard, a civil rights attorney out of Davenport, says the recent posts by the former mayor and police officer were "shocking" and "disturbing," given Yerington's former positions of authority.

"Police officers have the power to choose who they're going to arrest and while there are laws that govern what they do, they still have discretion. A post like this makes you question what kind of discretion he was using when he was a police officer, when he was a mayor," Marquard said.

Teague, too has questions about Yerington's past as a public servant.

"After hearing how he feels right now, there are a lot of questions out there concerning his police work," said Teague. "Now, it brings a whole lot of things into question," he said.

Another post by Yerington read, "I've blocked 17 black people that I've never heard from who had to take the time to call me a bigot. And these assholes wonder why we have racial problems. They cause the majority of their own problems."

Yerington says he's been retired from public service for several years and his opinions are different now. He says he went 34 years on the force with "no complaints of racial discrimination, profiling, or excessive force."

And says, since he's not a police officer now, his personal opinions shouldn't matter.

Yerington was fired from the Davenport Police Department in 2004 after 34 years.

He was mayor from 1998 until 2002. He ran and lost as a write-in candidate for mayor in 2013.

For Rev. Kelly, Yerington's Facebook posts and beliefs are a troubling revelation.

"It's very disturbing. At the time, when I voted for him, he was doing those things that were right for our community and he was in those places where I needed support. I don't know what has transpired. Maybe he was never that person that he portrayed himself to be. It's evident in his statements now, he's never had the interest of all. But, a select few."