Lynchburg, VA - Lynchburg City Councilman H. Cary spoke about "thuggish people" at Riverside Park at a work session earlier this week, and now he's coming under quite a bit of fire.
"That's when the thuggish people arrive after that....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," he said.
The controversial conversation at Tuesday night's work session began about security issues at Miller Park in Lynchburg.
It took a personal turn when Cary said his daughter's friends couldn't use the playground in Riverside Park because of "thuggish people" who hang out there.
Later in the meeting, he said the majority of those people are young African Americans.
ABC 13 spoke to Ceasor Johnson, the vice mayor of Lynchburg and the only sitting African American on council, about 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?' So in that context of it, it's been kind of hurtful to hear how people are reacting to it," he said.
Cary says his core message was one he sticks firmly behind, but he wishes he'd worded his point differently.
"I wish I hadn't made a differentiation between whites and blacks because it certainly wasn't my intention to inject a racial overtone to this. This is a behavioral issue that cuts across racial lines," said Cary.
Cary says he's received an outpouring of support from constituents that are angry with crime taking place in city parks.
We'll have more on ABC 13 News at 11.