Welker Apologizes for Essay with Race Remarks

Steven K. Paulson, AP, March 11, 2006

DENVER—A Colorado lawmaker apologized Friday for sending an essay to friends and constituents that accuses blacks of waiting for the government to bail them out from problems caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Rep. Jim Welker, R-Loveland, offered a “sincere apology” for forwarding the article he said was racially charged.

“It was poor judgment on my part, very poor judgment,” he said. He said he didn’t read the essay very carefully before sharing it with colleagues via e-mail.

But Phil Koster, president of the Fort Collins chapter of Not In Our Town, or NIOT, an organization that fights racism and discrimination, said this is not the first time Welker has forwarded such e-mail.

“Members of the Fort Collins clergy met with Welker a year and a half ago because he sent out an extremely anti-Muslim e-mail and then claimed ignorance,” Koster said Friday. “Apparently it didn’t work.”

The essay by the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, who is black, said most people would protect their families, then return to rebuild their communities, but “if you’re black and a hurricane is about to destroy your city, then you’ll probably wait for the government to save you.”

He said: “All Americans must tell blacks this truth. It was blacks’ moral poverty, not their material poverty, that cost them dearly in New Orleans.”

Peterson said Welker had no need to apologize because his essay wasn’t racist.

“When you tell the truth about black people, you pay a price for it. It shows he cares about what’s going on in our country, he cares about black Americans,” Peterson said.

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