- Associated Press - Monday, April 27, 2015

PINE BLUFF, Ark. (AP) - Four aldermen in central Arkansas have refused to work with a colleague on city business over his use of a racial slur during an online debate.

The City Council members, all of whom are black, walked out of a meeting April 20 to protest alderman Bill Brumett, who is white, after he misspelled a black man’s last name in a way that included a racial epithet. The council unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in Brumett at its April 6 meeting.

Brumett was arguing with a Pine Bluff native on Facebook last month when he became agitated by the man’s misspelling of the alderman’s name. Brummet says he then intentionally misspelled J.C. Cunningham’s name but that he didn’t know Cunningham was black and the epithet was unintentional.

Brumett says he meant to spell Cunningham’s name as “Cuuningham,” but instead wrote “Cooninham.”

Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1zgDgke ) that the dispute has caused city business to slow and has left a $250,000 grant for University Park in limbo. She’s concerned about the aldermen’s ability to meet and work together, she said.

“I just hope that those who are upset over this issue can look at the bigger picture and realize we have a city to run and govern,” Hollingsworth said.

Members of the city’s NAACP and some residents want Brumett to resign, saying it’s unlikely the slur was accidental. But Brumett said he has apologized and doesn’t plan to step down.

Brumett’s future on the City Council likely will be determined by a recall election if the voters who elected Brumett want him removed from office, Hollingsworth said.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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