A group of activists in Fraser Valley are calling for the Abbotsford city councilor to resign after a problematic Instagram comment about Black Lives Matter surfaced online.
The comment, which was written by Councilor Brenda Falk’s husband, Arnold Falk, sparked the online petition calling for her resignation after the organizers stated that she hasn’t done enough to address racism in the city.
The petition reads: "This is a last resort for compelling accountability from a public figure who is neglecting her responsibility to root out systemic racism."
The Change.org petition states that the controversy began in late July after Falk's business, Tanglebank, posted a derisive comment on a pro-BLM Instagram post.
The comment was deleted, but screenshots shared on social media read: "All lives matter. Let’s treat people with respect and dignity no matter what color or gender they are. Treat people the way you want to be treated and let’s stop the BS."
Arnold Falk sent an apology via the Tanglebank Instagram account on July 30, writing that he would like to "apologize to the community for a hurtful comment" he posted on social media.
The post continued: "At the time, I had misunderstood this phrase to be a statement of equality and I had used it with that intention. Through recent discussions, I have learned the history of the phrase and now understand that it is offensive and used to diminish the importance of black people’s struggle for equality. My use of the phrase was not intended as a rejection of the idea that black lives matter too. Rather, my intention was to share my belief in equality – that we should treat people with respect and dignity no matter what color or gender they are."
Falk also expressed his support for the BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) community in the post, and his disgust at the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor.
He distanced his comments from his wife, writing: "I would also like to make clear that my initial comment only spoke for myself. I do not speak on behalf of the City of Abbotsford, the Mayor, my wife Brenda, or her colleagues on council. Responsibility for my actions lies with me and it is mine to bear."
Despite the apology, the organizers maintained that that there are past examples that point to the "insincerity of this apology."
659 people have signed the petition.
Falk sent a statement to CTV News Vancouver maintaining that her husband's post was a failed attempt at being inclusive and that he neither speaks for her, nor anyone else on the city council.
"His intention was to share his belief in equality – that we should treat people with respect and dignity no matter what color or gender they are. That’s what we’ve always done in our multicultural family," she wrote. "After learning the history of the phrase and understanding that it is offensive and used to diminish the importance of black people’s struggle for equality, he issued a public apology on July 30."
She stated that she was committed to ending systemic racism in municipal institutions, and added: "I believe we need to focus on working together to solve these issues and not on fanning the flames of outrage and division."
Sources: America Now