By Mike Lednovich
Last Tuesday in Fernandina Beach was a day of ignominy.
That’s when Mayor Bradley Bean refused to read a proclamation honoring the Transgender Day of Remembrance at the city commission meeting.
He was joined by City Commissioner Darron Ayscue, who decided to insult about 50 supporters after the proclamation was read by declaring, “I believe this proclamation is a wider version of a political agenda. I believe this proclamation silences, out of fear, part of our community who is going to be labeled transphobic because they speak out on this proclamation.”
The stain on the history of this city commission moment is forever archived in the city’s video vault for all to see.
These were not spur-of-the-moment decisions, but deliberate and calculated acts of disrespect for the transgender community and their supporters. The mayor and commissioner violated their oath of office and the tenets of common decency and compassion regarding people who were murdered because of their transgender identity.
Ayscue, a firefighter, claimed the motive behind the proclamation was part of a “cancel culture” agenda.
Cancel culture, Commissioner Ayscue, is when 44 transgender or gender non-conforming people are fatally shot or killed by other violent means.
The proclamation that Mayor Bean rejected and Commissioner Ayscue attacked was not a political statement, but a simple recognition of the humanity and dignity of transgender people. It signified a gesture of solidarity and compassion for those who suffer from discrimination, harassment and violence. The proclamation was a call for awareness and action to end the hatred and bigotry in any community that fuels such violence.
But Bean and Ayscue left their compassion for those victims in the city hall parking lot. Instead, they chose to pander to the far right-wing in order to garner political party “brownie points.” Both men have future ambitions of higher elected positions in mind. Ayscue wants to be our city’s future mayor.
Their behavior demonstrated a lack of leadership, integrity and empathy. They failed to represent and respect all of their constituents. Bean and Ayscue failed to uphold the values of diversity, equality and justice that our city and our country stand for.
Hours after the disgraceful incident, the genuine leaders of Fernandina Beach stood before Bean and Ayscue and called them out.
“I’m very disappointed that our mayor, you Mr. Bean, have taken a stance that you will not read a proclamation requested by a group of city residents. You are elected as a commissioner to represent all citizens of this community,” said Victoria Robas. “You have read hundreds of proclamations in your role as mayor. Now you decide to pick and choose which of the multitude of individuals and organizations which make up the fabric of this community you will bless with a proclamation. What’s next Mr. Mayor? Will you refuse to read proclamations regarding black citizens, our Asian community or those with disabilities or minorities? Tyranny has small beginnings, and you have just shown this community how it’s done.”
Former Mayor Arlene Filkoff admonished them stating, “I’ve always been a champion of the underdog. I understood (as mayor) my job wasn’t to be anybody’s minister or rabbi. My job was to be allinclusive to every citizen of this community. This proclamation was endorsing a memorial day for transgender people who were killed for being who they are. The proclamation didn’t mean that you agree with transgender. This is not something anyone should be OK with.”
That says it all.