HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – A public apology was given by Forrest County Coroner Butch Benedict on Tuesday, after he received backlash following a statement he made in the comments section of his Facebook post. It seemingly referred to Vice President Kamala Harris as a “monkey.”
The coroner said he did not know that the animal has been previously used to describe African Americans and opted out of the responsibility of the statement from its original post on January 27th. He said the ongoing backlash is painting him in a way he is not, and he wants those who were offended to know he is sorry.
“Sometimes we are offended by or hurt by or angry with one another, most of these times, offenses are totally unintended and often the person that causes the offense is not even aware that it has taken place. I realize that it offended someone by the words that were written. I am truly sorry if the words offended you, but the words written were not meant to offend anyone but I am truly sorry if I offended you or any organization by those words. It is just an old saying,” he stated.
The Forrest County Board of Supervisors refused to comment on the situation while the City of Hattiesburg officials spared no expense in calling for Benedict’s resignation prior to the apology. When asked what does monkeys and football mean to you, the coroner said he uses the term with his family as well.
“I use the term monkey and football but the old term is its chaos or nobody knows what’s going on and it reminds me of a monkey screwing a football. So if you in visualize monkey screwing a football, you know what I’m talking about. It’s chaotic everywhere and that’s what I meant by Washington D.C., everyone up there. If my wife, son or family does something silly, I say to them does a monkey and a football mean anything to you.”
The coroner clarified that his statement was not a direct comment toward Vice President Harris and was instead a comment toward Washington D.C. in general. The official apology was organized by Derrian Moye, Chairman of the Black History Celebrations Executive Committee, who said he asked the coroner to apologize for the offense so that the community can move forward and focus on other issues.