‘Klan’ Facebook post creates Election Day firestorm in Hopewell

Posted at 5:37 PM, Nov 05, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-05 18:38:42-05

HOPEWELL, Va. (WTVR) -- A city council member’s Election Day Facebook post has folks buzzing in Hopewell.

The post by Hopewell City Council's Brenda Pelham states Hopewell Sheriff candidate Cathie Mitchell and Commonwealth's Attorney Rick Newman "were a part of the klan" that worked to make the first African-American Hopewell chief of police resign.

Mitchell and Newman told CBS 6 News senior reporter Wayne Covil that Pelham is trying to sabotage their campaigns by implying they are members of the Ku Klux Klan.

However, Pelham, said she was just voicing her opinion on Facebook  and was surprised when people pointed out that she spelled clan with a "k." She said it was a simple spelling error.

"It probably was done subconsciously," said Pelham. "It had nothing to do with, with people are accusing me of -- against the klan as the KKK."


It's not Brenda Pelham's first controversy while in office, but the Facebook post has ruffled quite a few feathers.

In fact, Newman and Mitchell call it a political attack.

"For her to say something like that is really horrendous," said Hopewell Commonwealth's Attorney Rick Newman. "That basically I was a racist and belonged to the Ku Klux Klan, is the way I took it."

Mitchell, a candidate for Hopewell sheriff, said she was appalled when she read the post.

Newman and Mitchell maintain that they had nothing to do with the former police chief's resignation. The pair thinks Pelham’s use of “k” was intentional -- and slanderous.

"He was the first African-American chief and you put a 'k' with it.... What are you supposed to think?" asked Newman.

Pelham said she won't take down the post and that when she referred to the clan she was talking about “a group of people who helped toss out our first African-American chief of police.”

The post left some voters concerned. But others think it was a simple mistake.

"It concerns me when it brings somebody's character down, that I know is not that type of person,” said Vannette Taylor.

Margaret Jackson, another constituent, said she believes it was a mistake because that is "not Ms. Pelham's character."

Brenda Pellham remains adamant that her use of klan was a simple misspelling.

"If you're convicted by a word, that's your choice, but I know my intent," Pellham said.