A post by a county volunteer on the San Lee Park Mountain Bike Trail Facebook page criticizing a “Mexican” bicyclist and immigrants “who flood into our country illegally” was taken down after it was met with accusations of racism and insensitivity.
The post, written Monday evening, detailed damage done to one of the trails after the volunteer said he notified three young riders that they were in violation of a rule requiring them to wear helmets or face a $100 fine.
“It’s unfortunate that our politicians allow these people to flood uncontrolled into our country,” read the now-deleted post. “They certainly lack American values and respect.”
The rider in question was identified elsewhere in the post as a “Mexican boy” and it was noted that he and his friends “acted like they didn’t understand English.” The message was signed “Donn.”
The post garnered dozens of comments – many of them calling the comments insensitive and racist.
“I’m Latino and have full respect of our trail rules/closures in the Greensboro area,” one read. “Youngsters are going to act foolish regardless of their nationality.”
“I may not speak for all those in our area, but this racism and xenophobia are not shared by the greater Lee County ridership,” read another.
While San Lee Park is a Lee County Parks and Recreation facility, the San Lee Park Mountain Bike Trail Facebook page is a private one managed by a volunteer, according to Jamie Brown, the county’s public information officer.
“This person is not a county employee,” Brown said. “He does volunteer with the park, but he is not authorized to speak for the county, and in no way were those comments reflective of the values of Lee County Government. We are reviewing our policies to ensure that all users of the park feel welcome at all times.”
Brown said that she began receiving messages about the Facebook post on Tuesday morning and immediately notified “the appropriate individuals.”
“We have a social media policy for the county which we are in the process of updating that all county employees are subject to, but our current policies do not cover volunteers,” she said.
Brown also said that while county policy does require riders to wear helmets, she’s aware of no local ordinance that outlines any kind of fine for not doing so.
In a follow up post later Tuesday morning, the person who wrote the initial one apologized “to those whom I might have offended by my comments” and clarified that his remarks do not reflect Lee County government.
I know Donn and although I know it’s not right to stereotype people I think we are all guilty of this at times for various reasons. I am sure Donn’s comments were out of frustration since he has spent easily hundreds of hours and much personal expense to make the San-Lee mountain bike trails one of the best areas to ride in the region. If the story line and sequence of events are accurate he was commenting after the track was intentionally vandalized. I am sure he has learned to be careful how he comments in the future.