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Huntsville City Council Member Makes Public Apology

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There was an air of forgiveness at Tuesday's city council meeting.

After the apology by council woman Judy Kayse, most residents said they accepted her apology for insensitive remarks she made at a committee meeting for Huntsville Promise, a non-profit youth organization.

But those same residents were also calling for her resignation.

"Though everything in my being wants to fight, to avenge the damaging words of February 23rd, I hear another voice that says forgive," says Huntsville resident George Oliver.

One by one Huntsville residents voiced their outrage at a racial slur made by Kayse.

In a barely audible voice, Kayse read an apology, saying her remarks about lynching black people were meant in jest, but were inappropriate.

Residents want Kayse to resign, the city is asking for everyone to move on.

"I hope as a community we can except this apology and move on and learn from this," says Mayor Pro Tem Steed Smith.

Most at the meeting say they will forgive Kayse, but they won't forget.

"I believe your public apology is not enough and I am personally calling for your resignation," says Huntsville Resident Kay Douglas.

Kayse has been removed from the Huntsville Youth Council, but some that is also not enough.

"I think it's inappropriate for her to represent me and joke about lynching," says Douglas.

The bigger issue of community-wide rifts between races was the theme of the evening.

And although this issue may be over for now, residents told the council, there are deeper problems that need to be addressed.

During the meeting other allegations of racism were brought against council woman Kayse, and residents are still adamant about her resignation. Last month, Judy Kayse, one of the council's at-large members, made a racial remark during a routine visit to a non-profit organization. Tuesday night is the first council meeting since the comment was made. The issue is the council's top agenda item which they are taking up right now.

George Oliver was present when council member Judy Kayse made the comment last month during a visit to Huntsville Promise, a non-profit organization.

"She never has apologized to several individuals involved and that's what has made this a big issue, people around town are saying swallow your pride-apologize," says Oliver.

Oliver says the comment was directed at him and another black man who was in the room. An employee of Huntsville Promise, Oliver was so offended by the remark, he resigned.

"This qualifies as a lack of judgment and we elect public officials for their judgment. I do not trust her judgment anymore and I believe now is the time to resign," says Oliver.

The NAACP has gotten involved in the dispute. Richard Watkins is the president of the local chapter.

"She's an elected official. Anyone in that position that is that insensitive to make that kind of remark has no business performing duties of a city council person," says Watkins.

"A healing process needs to start today and it needs to start with Mrs. Kayse stepping down," adds Watkins.

Kayse didn't return our repeated phone calls to her home and work but she did issue this statement.

"I meant no ill, I spoke without thinking. I am truly sorry for the hurt and offense my remark caused, to all who feel hurt by my remark, please forgive me," says Kayse.

"I would hope that healing could begin that we as a city could begin to look from a public policy standpoint at other ways of dealing with race relations in this community," says Oliver.