Racial Tension Continues to Boil in Atwater

July 26, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
An Atwater city leader could lose his job Monday after e-mails found at his office containing racial jokes were discovered by the Merced Sun Star.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Update: Protesters Demand Gary Frago's Resignation
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Gary Frago he said he is genuinely nervous and scared about his future as a public figure. He contends he is not a racist, however, he sees nothing wrong with the emails he passed along.

Atwater Councilmember Gary Frago's job is on the line now after racial emails about President Obama and his wife were forwarded by him to other city leaders and friends in the community.

"I'm sorry. I made a mistake. It won't happen in the future. That's sincere," said Frago.

Frago believes he did nothing wrong. The emails did not originate with him and he said they were merely jokes; jokes using the "N" word and one where Michelle Obama is paid to pose nude in National Geographic.

Frago: "What I did does not affect the job I do for the city, city council. I am committed to the city."

Monday the Atwater City Council will hold its normal meeting then Frago's fate as a 9-year member of that council will be decided at a public forum at the local community center.

"It's appalling that this would be disseminated by someone who has been an elected official," said Dr. Napolean Washington, president of the Merced county NAACP.

Dr. Washington is calling for Frago's resignation.

Washington: "We have had calls and e-mails from all over the country people looking at this issue saying in the year 2009 how can we have a councilmen carry on this way."

Washington said people still find nothing wrong with these types of jokes and that's the problem. Action News was able to find some residents who back Frago.

Atwater resident Lee Carlos said: "I can see how somebody would perceive that as racist but I don't think it was. I think he's just forwarding an email."

"I see it as being out of proportion," said Carlos's wife.

But others residents said Frago does not represent them or their beliefs.

"He should resign. That's just something really unacceptable," said one resident and another said: "I just don't approve of any of that. It's not necessary. We're all God's children.

Monday's council meeting starts at 6pm and will adjourn 15-minutes later. The special meeting regarding Frago's future will take place at the local community center were a large gathering of people from the Valley is expected.

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