The warden of a small town in Dutchess County state said this week that he was “not at all racist” for posting memes involving Harambe, the Cincinnati zoogorilla, on his Facebook page prior to his election after giving birth to a child had fallen into his enclosure.
James Schmitt, the Pawling City Superintendent, posted the images to his social media account on May 31 and June 1, 2016, a year before he was elected in the Republican, Conservative and Independence elections, the Albany Times reported Union on Tuesday.
The memes remained on his Facebook page until this summer, when they disappeared, the newspaper reported.
In an interview with the TU, Schmitt asserted that he was “not at all” racist and was surprised “that people could have perceived it negatively”.
The posts related to Harambe, who was fatally shot by a Cincinnati zoo worker in May 2016 after a 3-year-old boy fell into his enclosure, the Times Union said
The gorilla grabbed the boy and dragged him through the exhibit
After his death, the 450-pound Harambe quickly became a meme, his image appeared on a variety of products, and his supporters created a “Justice for Harambe” petition.
One of the pictures Schmitt posted showed a smiling white gorilla along with the words: “Pretty sure the white gorilla would have just been calmed down. Too early?”
The other showed a black gorilla with a small gorilla on its back
“If I throw my baby on stage at a concert, will they shoot Kanye?” it said.
This picture on Schmitt’s page had 70 positive reactions.
Schmitt said in a series of texts with the newspaper on Tuesday that he was unaware the memes would be viewed negatively, noting he received no backlash after the postings.
He also said none of his Republican peers raised concerns after his election.
“I am proud to come from a diverse family and community here in Pawling. This shared post should not be taken lightly at all,” he said.
“Unfortunately, we live in a society where people actively seek to cancel individuals based on differing beliefs, rather than working together to find common ground and solutions to problems. If anyone offended this post, my sincere apologies, but this appears to be politically motivated rather than caring about the people of our community,” he continued
A screenshot below one of the now-deleted posts shows that one person wrote that the image was “downright disgusting and racist.”
“How is that racist?” Schmidt answered.
He said he removed the posts “out of respect for our community.”
Jamie Piccone, leader of the Pawling Republican Party, said he had “no idea” about Schmitt’s memes.
He told the newspaper he heard someone “dug it all up” and described the situation as “when people go after someone for their own gain”.
https://nypost.com/2022/09/21/upstate-new-york-town-supervisor-defends-allegedly-racist-harambe-memes/ New York City Superintendent Allegedly Defends Racist Harambe Memes