Lynchburg, VA - "That's when the thuggish people arrive after that. Whites in the morning blacks in the evening in large part. That's unfortunate" said City Councilman H. Cary during a council work session on Tuesday.
At that work session, Cary went on to describe the "thuggish people" that hang out after hours at a park in Lynchburg, as predominantly young African Americans.
His comments are drawing a lot of criticism. One of his colleagues, a city council member saying Cary's words disgusted him.
Cary cleared the air and said exactly what he meant when he said this, "When my daughter's friends tell me, we'll take our little children to the spray ground but we're not staying after two o'clock, because that's when the thuggish people arrive. Whites in the morning blacks in the evening in large part. That's unfortunate. The park needs to be available for all people all the time."
"If I had it to do over again, I would phrase it differently" said Cary of his remarks.
The councilman was at a work session discussing city park safety, when he vocalized what he says are concerns of some constituents. He says he regrets the way he said it, but not what he meant.
"I wish that I hadn't said, I hadn't made a differentiation between whites and blacks because it was certainly not my intention to inject a racial overtone into this. This is a behavioral issue that cuts across racial lines" said Cary.
"I didn't know there was no distinguished line. Everybody else can go to the Spraypark, and then the thugs, the rest of us, can get there in the evening. That was very hurtful" said Ceasor Johnson, Lynchburg's Vice Mayor.
Johnson, the only sitting African American on council, says he had to bite his tongue when he heard Cary's comments.
"I've had some constituents even call me. I had some people Facebook me. I had people just stop me on the street and say can you believe what he said?" said Johnson.
Cary's controversial comments stem from the Sprayground at Riverside Park.
We went to the park when Cary said the "thuggish people" come around, and among others, we found Craig McNaughton and his family.
"We love it, my kid loves it, everybody's here, it's a real friendly place" said McNaughton.
We asked about "thuggish people."
"Families, maybe that's the new terminology, but no, just mainly families here most of the time" said McNaughton.
Cary said he's received an outpouring of support over what he said on Tuesday; emails, phone calls, all from constituents fed up with crime at some city parks.
Cary is an at large council member, meaning he represents the entire city.