A city official in Northern California has been booted from his post after suggesting that old, sick and homeless people should be left to die during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ken Turnage II, chairman of the city planning commission of Antioch, located 35 miles east of Oakland, said in a Facebook post last month that “the sick, the old, the injured” should be left during the pandemic to meet their “natural course in nature,” The Associated Press reported.
“The World has been introduced to a new phrase Herd Immunity which is a good one,” he wrote in the since-deleted post. “In my opinion we need to adapt a Herd Mentality. A herd gathers it ranks, it allows the sick, the old, the injured to meet its natural course in nature.”
Turnage added that “homeless and other people who just defile themselves by either choice or mental issues” should also be allowed to perish as this “would fix what is a significant burden on our Society and resources that can be used.”
As local media reported, many city residents and officials were aghast at Turnage’s remarks.
Antioch Mayor Sean Wright, who appointed Turnage in 2017 to head the planning commission, lambasted the comments as “abhorrent,” according to The Mercury News.
“As public officials in one of the largest and most diverse cities in Contra Costa County, we are called to serve all residents of Antioch; whether young or old, rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, housed or unhoused,” Wright said in a statement.
One resident said he was “flabbergasted and in disbelief that … someone who represents my city of Antioch could find the heart to write such racist and discriminatory comments,” The Mercury News reported.
Wright said he’d pushed Turnage to resign last week — but the commissioner refused to step down.
Turnage told Bay City News that he was “baffled” by the strong reaction his post had provoked and said his remarks had stemmed from his belief in “ecological balance” and not bigotry.
The Antioch City Council unanimously to oust Turnage from his post during a special meeting conducted via video chat on Friday night.
Prior to the vote, Turnage read a statement defending his Facebook comments.
“My personal opinion had nothing to do with the city or my position on the planning commission. So to try to somehow link them or create a nexus to further your political agendas is shameful,” Turnage told the council, Bay City News reported.
He added that “targeting me with repercussion for this is a direct violation of my First Amendment rights.”