Racially Charged Photo Sparks Controversy In Metro Council Race

Posted at 9:30 PM, Aug 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-01 23:35:54-04

Just days before voters head to the polls, the race for the District 1 Metro Council seat is heating up.

At the center of the controversy, is a racially charged photo that was doctored to show Nick Leonardo, the only white candidate running for Metro Council in District 1, standing in front of four people wearing blackface makeup.  Leonardo’s name is also misspelled in the image.

William “Bug” Mason Jr., another candidate for District 1, confirmed one of his campaign volunteers was behind the image and posted it on the Hip Bordeaux Facebook page.  As soon as he learned about the photo, he asked the volunteer to take it down.

“The picture was distasteful, and not in the character of what this campaign is all about,” said Mason.  “I do not condone anything of that nature.”

The man who posted it, Kenyatta Demonbreun, also took responsibility for the photo.  He said he is a graphic design artist, and he created the image.  He said the Mason campaign had nothing to do with the picture.  He said he created the photo in response to verbal insults he received from a member of the Leonardo campaign.  He also said he is still working with the Mason campaign.

Leonardo said he believed Demonbreun was not a volunteer, and was being paid by the Mason campaign.  He also said he feared the image would further divide the district.  He said in the days leading up to the election, he planned to stay focused on uniting the district and the issues that would help residents in District 1.

“I think that it was a bold and hurtful move by a paid campaign staffer,” said Leonardo.  “ It’s a slap in the face to all the hard work many people have put into fighting for social injustice.”

In addition to Leonardo and Mason, Rueben Dockery is also running for the council seat.

Voters head to the polls on Aug. 4.