Dan Clevenger resigned as mayor of Marionville, Missouri, after just two weeks in office after saying in a news interview that he "kind of agree[d]" with the white supremacist beliefs of Frazier Glenn Miller. Last weekend, Miller murdered three people in Overland Park, near Kansas City, after opening fire at two Jewish centers. Miller, who was known to civil rights groups for years for his anti-Semitic and white supremacist activities, allegedly yelled "Heil Hitler" as he was being taken away by police.
When asked about the shooting by a local TV station, Clevenger described Miller as "always nice and friendly," and as a man who "respected his elders, greatly, as long as they were the same color as him [chuckle]."
Clevenger announced his resignation following a crowded Town Hall meeting, during which many residents of the town asked him to step down. The town aldermen then voted 4-1 to begin impeachment proceedings against him. Miller (also known as Frazier Glenn Cross) spent most of his adult life participating in white supremacist organizations. He and Clevenger were friends.
Gene Smith spoke in support of the mayor and pointed at his fellow residents.
"I have seen a lot more hatred from some of you people than I have seen out of Dan Clevenger," he said. "I thought we had free speech in America."
Smith blamed the media for "twisting" Clevenger's words, and when a News-Leader reporter later asked if he could take his picture, Smith tried to hit the reporter with one of his crutches.
There was also a strange moment when the town argued over whether there were any black people who lived there or not:
At one point, a young man said that he had lived in Marionville a year and had never seen a single black person.
This prompted Dan Noyes, 53, to leave and return with his son-in-law, Damian Harris, 34, who lives in the city and is black.
Noyes wanted to prove that there was at least one black person in the city of 2,250. Marionville is 30 miles southwest of Springfield.
Harris is a captain with the Marionville Fire Department.
"The city has accepted me from Day One," Harris told the News-Leader.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.