Civil rights group calls for councilwoman to step down in Georgetown amid confederate flag controversy
GEORGETOWN, Del. – The confederate flag controversy continues in Georgetown. Following Monday night’s contentious council meeting, a local civil rights group is joining the call for a council member to step down.
The Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice is speaking out, calling on Georgetown Councilwoman Sue Barlow to step down after she supported funding the museum and voted to approve it despite being a lifetime member of the historical society that runs it.
“There is a conflict of interest, she should have recused herself,” Joe Lawson, a committee member with the alliance explained in an interview with 47 ABC News Anchor Rob Petree. “This is their own pet-project, and from a potential corruption standpoint, it stinks to high-hell.”
The latest call for Councilwoman Barlow to step down comes just a day after Georgetown’s Mayor Bill West spoke out and called for Barlow to step aside, expresses grave concerns over the state of her health following Monday night’s contentious council meeting.
The condemnation comes after a check for more than $24,000 was delivered to the Georgetown Historical Society, who owns and operates the Marvel Museum, where a confederate flag flies at a monument honoring soldiers who fought in the confederacy during the Civil War.
A check that was to be delivered to the organization was voided by Georgetown Mayor Bill West after learning that no formal committee process was established prior to the vote that approved the funding, which could open the door to a potential lawsuit. Three council members, Angela Townsend, Sue Barlow, and Penuel Barrett pushed ahead with that funding, delivering a new check to the historical society earlier this month.
Lawson was also quick to call out Councilwoman Angela Townsend, who made the initial motion to approve the funding and has been a vocal supporter of the confederate flag. In our interview, he said her statements have made her look like a racist.
“Everything she has said is something that a true racist would say,” Lawson stated. “It’s hard for me to imagine her not being a racist based on those statements. She has zero empathy for the black community. She is completely obsessed with her opinion about the confederate flag.”
Councilwoman Townsend defended her decision to fund the museum during the council meeting on Monday.
“Everyone is being offended by something, and a lot of things offend me, but I put up with it and I deal with it, I said how many people are against the Vietnam War, is that memorial going to come down next?,” Councilwoman Townsend stated. “I’m not black, so I don’t know, I’m not in your position, and ya know, I didn’t do it to be mean, I voted because to me it was the right thing to do for the marvel museum to make improvements to the property.”
Mayor West also called out Councilwoman Townsend, in an interview on Tuesday he told our news department that her recent remarks have led some people to think she’s “very racist.”
“Angie needs to think before she speaks because a lot of her language is leading people to think that she is very racist,” Mayor West stated. “The comments she makes, and her husband made in public comment, shows that they’ve got some feelings of white power, and it’s not gonna happen here in Georgetown, I’m not gonna let it happen.”
Following the approval of the funding last month, we spoke with Councilwoman Angela Townsend, who we asked if the feelings of black residents in Georgetown mattered to her, to which she replied: “Yes, it matters to me,” she said in response. “I am not promoting slavery, or what happened in the past, the only thing I am doing is, I’m trying to preserve history so it doesn’t repeat itself.”
Mayor Bill West has been a vocal critic of funding the museum over the confederate flag and the process in which that funding was approved. He called out Councilwoman Barlow directly at Monday night’s meeting as she was reportedly on council in 2007 when that motion to form such a committee for that type of funding was adopted.
“If we should be mad at anybody, it should be Sue,” Mayor West stated. “She was on council when this ordinance was passed.”
Councilwoman Barlow responded to Mayor West, citing her age and her assumption that town leadership had read and knew of the ordinance.
“I just want to defend myself Bill,” Councilwoman Barlow said. “That ordinance that you’re talking about was passed in 2008 [actually passed in 2007] I was on the council at the time, but ya know that’s a long time ago and I am 78 years old, so I don’t have a really good memory and I assumed that the Town Manager and the Town Solicitor had read the ordinance and knew what it said.”
The ordinance they’re referring to is from 2007 and specifically states that when it comes to G.R.E.A.T. funding, which is where the $24,750 to the Georgetown Historical Society was allocated from, the Georgetown Town Council must establish a committee to review such funding prior to approving it and that committee may then recommend the funding be put forth for a vote on council. No such committee process was formed prior to the vote to approve the funding at the council meeting on July 25, 2022.
Numerous attempts by 47 ABC to reach both Councilwoman Townsend and Councilwoman Barlow have been ignored.
There have also been grave concerns in the town over the potential of a lawsuit following the way the funding was approved, a concern Mayor West expressed during Monday night’s meeting.
Both the Central Delaware NAACP and the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice have stated they are exploring potential lawsuits as it relates to the Town of Georgetown’s handling of approving the funding. No official litigation has been filed at this time.
Multiple calls to Georgetown Historical Society President Jim Bowden have went unanswered.
This is a developing story and 47 ABC News will release more information as it becomes available.