MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (CBS) — Some were demanding Monday night that a Merrillville town councilman step down, after photos surfaces showing him in blackface.
As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported, the councilman has apologized. But some say it’s not enough.READ MORE: With Police Backup, Daughter Of Fallen Chicago Police Officer Graduates High School
Jeff Minchuk is also a Lake County, Indiana sheriff’s officer, and his boss there calls the pictures “disrespectful, irresponsible, and in bad taste.”
There are even calls for Minchuk to step down from his elected position.
The pictures that surfaced show Minchuk with his face painted in blackface next to a person in a Ku Klux Klan hood, and another photo of Minchuk pretending to be arrested by an officer with his baton raised.
“It’s reflective of a deep, dark past of American history,” said Merrillville resident Maceo Rainey.
Minchuk serves as councilman for Merrillville’s 3rd District.
“I think that the councilman should step down – do the right thing and step down for the citizens of Merrillville,” Rainey said.
Minchuk apologized on Facebook, explaining the photos are from a Halloween party years ago.
He wrote that his costume was inspired by a 2003 “Dave Chappelle Show” sketch Minchuk said a friend who is Black was under the hood, and they thought it would be funny to switch races for the costume.READ MORE: Two Chicago Police Officers Shot On South Lawndale Released From Hospital
“This absolutely does not portray who I am or who my good friend is as an African-American,” Minchuk wrote. “I blame no one else for what happened. It was my decision and a poor one at that.”
“That was a very, very poor apology if it was to be one,” said the Rev. Homer Cobb, president of the Hammond, Indiana NAACP chapter. “A weak apology as to say that he has African-American friends.”
Cobb continued, “I do believe that he should have been reprimanded by his council.”
In a statement, Merrillville Town Council President and Ward 5 Representative Rick Bella called the photos “nappropriate behavior for anyone, at any time, and at any adult age, even if done for the sake of humor.”
“Of the people we ask to represent us, we expect and demand more,” Rainey said.
Lake County, Indiana Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr. released the following statement:
“I recently became aware of the photos on social media and do not, in any way, condone this type of activity. It’s disrespectful, irresponsible and in bad taste. This happened around 12 years ago before I became sheriff; but if something like this were to happen under my administration, this behavior would not be tolerated. This does not represent who we are. As a public official, Councilman Jeff Minchuk is subject to the response of his constituents.
“Since taking office in 2017, I have implemented a department-wide bias, harassment, sensitivity and inclusion training. We participated trainings in 2020 and will be receiving additional modules as part of ongoing education on these matters.”
The council is expected to meet this week to discuss the photos.MORE NEWS: MISSING: Kyrin Carter, 12, Has Autism, Last Seen At Best Western In Hammond, Indiana
Minchuk did not respond to our attempts to contact him for comment.