The racial divide in McKinney continues, the East District will be “redeveloped,” and long time residents aren’t planning on standing down.
On February 2, 2021; the McKinney City Council met to “Consider/Discuss/Act on the Throckmorton Statue Ad Hoc Advisory Board Research and Findings.” They blamed La’Shadion Shemwell as the reason for the racial divide in the community, so they got him out, possibly violating the 1965 Voting Rights Act in the process. There’s a lawsuit. However, the racist statute still remains.
The meeting on the 2nd didn’t go as planned. In fact, it ended badly.
They were already off to a bad start when one of the city councilmen burped into the mic as Mayor George Fuller introduced the item.
It wasn’t Fuller because he was talking, everyone else was wearing their mask.
Then came the presentation.
Which was actually more like a recap. The presenter spoke of their previous meetings, public comments, and a public survey about the racist statue.
Then, he spoke of a public survey, which only had 1,781 McKinney residents responded. There are about 182,000 people that live in McKinney. So, the survey represented less than 1% of the population.
The last meeting McKinney held regarding the statue was October 20, 2020, which was also the last city council that Shemwell had sat on. At that time, they pushed the issue of the racist statue out, to get through the elections, and discuss it again when who they thought was a troublemaker would be gone.
At Large District Councilman, Fredrick Frazier started off the discussion.
To say it’s cringe-worthy would be an understatement. Frazier said that it caused co many problems downtown, soon after George Floyd’s death and he watched the same thing happen in Dallas during Trump’s 2016 election. He said he watched council members go through so much grief from constituents who beloved them, never to talk to decades-old friends again.
Frazier rambled on as it seemed he was looking for the right words to say, “We have just come to a point in this part of America, where we’re starting to fix all of that. And we have Black History Month, which started yesterday. And I honor that. I think that’s a huge part of society.”
He then said that he wanted to table the item, because he still had a lot of questions, and they still have a long way to go.
Then one of the councilmen on the left (stage-left) concurred. Once again, because of the masks, it was difficult to determine which one.
The new District One councilperson, Angela Richardson-Woods then chimed in.
Angela Richardson-Woods is the councilwoman who took over La’Shadion Shemwell’s district and is the first Black woman to ever serve on McKinney’s city council.
Councilwoman Richardson-Woods said that she didn’t think that the issue of the statue should be tabled, because as she recalled, the reason why it was tabled in the first place, was because of the change of council.
Then, Mayor Pro-Tem, Raney Rogers had a comment. If you followed Living Blue in Texas last year, while we reported on the racial divide in McKinney, you may remember that Rainey Rogers was the council member who was unaware of the Southern Strategy and linked modern Democrats with the KKK.
Local Democrats have long called Rainey Rogers a problem in McKinney.
From Rogers talking about how they needed to put God back in schools, to his misinterpretation of history, and his questionable business ties. Considering all of that, none of his comments should have come as a surprise.
He said that over the last several months, he collected screenshots. And then went on to talk about how rioters toppled statues of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt in Portland.
Portland, it’s always Portland. Republicans are obsessed with Portland.
He spoke about statues that were torn down and then said he agreed with Councilman Frazier and he could postpone it as well.
District 4 Councilman Rick Franklin, then said he has lived in McKinney for 56 years and during that 56 years, no one said anything to him about the statue.
This led to multiple Black people in the audience speaking up about how they have been in McKinney just as long and it’s a problem for them.
Franklin replied that they listened to “both sides.” He went on to say, when you move the statue, you’re moving it out of sight, that’s “our” history, and “we” need to learn from “our” history. That’s what he said, but there’s no telling what he meant by using this Neo-Confederate argument. It is unlikely that the Black community in McKinney needs a racist statue to teach them that their ancestors were once slaves and denied equal rights. The racial disconnect in McKinney doesn’t stop amazing us.
The unfortunate situation of America today, is that white communities, especially the older ones, still embrace white supremacy, and fail to recognize it.
Councilman Frazier made a motion to table it and Councilman Rodgers seconded it. It was an interesting moment, because the look of disappointment on Mayor Fuller’s face was obvious.
Mayor Fuller might have got a bad wrap previously, (from us, included), because of the drama surrounding La’Shadion Shemwell. However, we think Mayor Fuller may actually be a good guy.
Then they voted on whether to table it or not.
The vote was mostly split, with Rainey Rogers, Charlie Phillips, Frederick Frazier, and Rick Franklin all voting to table moving forward without doing something about the racist statue in their city square. However, that wasn’t the end of the statue discussion that night, and it won’t be the end in weeks to come.
At the end of the city council meetings they always have “council and manager comments.”
Councilwoman Richardson-Woods started off. “Happy Black History month,” she said.
Mayor Fuller not hearing her, replied, “Huh?”
She repeated herself, but you can hear in her voice, she sounded defeated and mostly appeared to be speechless.
It is likely that most of the rest of the white city council failed to pick up on Councilwoman Richardson-Woods’ disappointment in her voice.
Then, when it was Councilman Frazier’s turn to speak, he really stuck his foot in his mouth, upsetting several members of the audience. He said, “Happy Black History Month. Where he came from as a police officer in San Antonio, it wasn’t recognized as it is up here in North Texas.”
(Is that true? San Antonio people. Message me on Twitter and let me know if that’s true.)
Frazier went on to say, “Black History Month was new to him when he came up here, especially when he worked with other African American officers on the police force. And especially when I played football with an all-Black football team, I was the only white guy, and that was another culture I learned.”
Frazier is just another product of our “color-blind” society. He claimed to have learned about Black History Month and Black Culture, but then he voted to table discussion on a racist statue during Black History Month. Likely the irony is lost on him.
Councilman Frazier said the statue has been there for 100 years and waiting another month or longer isn’t going to make a big difference.
He said he needed to collect his thoughts before he could vote on it.
Then he brought up the mobile home park, and that’s when things started to go south.
Earlier in the evening, a citizen commenter made a comment about how the city council had voted on turning a mobile home park into a parking lot with a 7-0 vote. Councilman Frazier spoke about how dilapidated the property was and how there were people who were living in squalor. McKinney residents tell me this was an accurate description of the living conditions there, mostly due to a slumlord. However, the owners of the property did not want to sell it. The City of McKinney used eminent domain to confiscate the property. This act made a lot of residents in the Black Community uneasy. Could their properties be next?
Councilman Frazier went on, “in order to redevelop the East District, some tough decisions have to be made.” Someone in the audience named Tamara was apparently shaking her head as he spoke, that’s when he said, “You can shake your head all you want, Tamara.” This led to gasps in the audience.
Frazier said that he met with high school students and asked them what was going on in McKinney that bothered them the most. He didn’t tell us how the students replied. Then he said, he asked the students what they would do with that statue. But, he had to backtrack and tell them about the statue, because they didn’t know about it.
Comments could be heard from the audience, then Frazier said, “This is not the discussion part. We had the discussion earlier.”
Frazier got frustrated and told someone in the audience, “If you want to talk, you can come up here.”
It was Mikhail Tutson. Mayor Fuller, pleaded, “No, no, Mikhail. Don’t come up. It’s not the time.” As Tutson approached the mic, he could be heard telling someone in the audience, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to cuss him out.”
Tutson, Frazier, and Fuller bickered back and forth for a moment whether or not Tutson should be at the mic. Then Tutson finally said, “You can’t come up here and address the people of the Eastside the manner that you do. You thought that Shemwell was the reason that those people were outside. He’s gone, but we’re still here. So, when you poke us, we’ll react.”
This was a true statement. There are and have been many racial issues in McKinney. La’Shadion Shamwell took a lot of the blame for that because he was outspoken and unapologetic. He was recalled for it. However, simply removing him, didn’t remove the other issues which plague this city.
I spoke with Mikhail Tutson last week and he filled me in on a lot.
“This has been the culture of McKinney it goes beyond a statue,” he told me. “That racist statue has no value itself, but what it represents not only to the community it demonizes but the beliefs and systems the of the people who erected it does. The statue is an easy thing. There are so many hard things in our community that need to be worked on and addressed, but hell, we can’t even get past this small little thing to get there.”
“What are the other issues that need to be addressed?” I asked him.
“Immediate issues are Gentrification of Eastside residents whose legacy extends well over 100-years so that the Good ol’ boys can bring IN the kind of dynamic and environment they wish to see. It’s too much to actually invest in the people by creating jobs and provide basic amenities vs expanding downtown for entertainment purposes under the disguise of community unification.”
“Second, is the education gap. Now, when I say education gap, I don’t mean the level of intelligence. That seems to be the narrative being pushed but the access to a better school within our OWN neighborhood. How do you name your schools after affluent leaders from East Mckinney then turn around and say we’re aren’t educated?”
“My generation can’t afford to live where are roots are planted as is. More and more of us are pushed out into the Dallas, Sherman, and Greenville areas.” Tutson said.
What was he talking about, exatly?
McKinney has a plan called, “One McKinney 2040 Comprehensive Plan.” This plan includes the redevelopment of McKinney’s East District, which is a majority Black area and includes families who have lived there for generations.
Longtime Black McKinney residents feel that the redevelopment plans are a method of gentrification to push them out and they aren’t happy about it.
The next city council meeting is on the 16th. We’ll be following this story closely and update y’all as it develops. We should expect to see a big backlash in the upcoming meetings and possible protests.