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Activist Confronts School Board Member, Goes Viral

Gary Chambers wasn't having it when Connie Bernard defended school named for Robert E. Lee
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2020 8:43 AM CDT

(Newser) – An activist who showed up at a Louisiana school board meeting has gone viral after he confronted one board member who defended keeping the name of a school named after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and seemed to be shopping online during the Thursday meeting, per ABC News. "I had intended to get up here and talk about how racist Robert E. Lee was, but I'm going to talk about you, Connie, sitting over there shopping," Gary Chambers says in the video to Connie Bernard as attendees discussed renaming Baton Rouge's Lee Magnet High School. "You sit your arrogant self in here and sit on there shopping while the pain and the hurt of the people of this community is on display, because you don't give a damn. And you should resign." He followed up later on Instagram, noting, "When we don't confront elected officials we give them permission to disrespect us and to devalue us."

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He also showed a picture of Bernard appearing to look at a shopping site. Bernard refuted that allegation Friday, telling the Advocate it was a pop-ad and that "I was actually taking notes, paying attention, reading online comments." In response, Chambers hit back on Instagram, showing Bernard scrolling on her screen for at least 15 seconds (ie, not a pop-up). Bernard has since issued an apology, though she won't resign, per WBRZ. "My comments last week ... were insensitive, have caused pain for others, and have led people to believe I am an enemy of people of color," she says in a statement, adding: "After prayerful consideration and consultation with my family and friends, I will continue to serve all students." Chambers, meanwhile, informed MSNBC Monday that the board members unanimously voted for the name change. He, other activists, and other board members still want Bernard to resign. (Read more viral video stories.)

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