Archive for Monday, October 22, 2001

Sheriff admits to racist e-mail, drops marshal bid

October 22, 2001


— Pettis County Sheriff Gary Starke, admitting that he distributed a racist joke list by e-mail, has withdrawn his name from consideration for appointment as a U.S. marshal.

Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., announced in July that he was recommending Starke for appointment as the marshal for Missouri's Western District. The job is subject to Senate confirmation.

Bond spokesman Ernie Blazar said Wednesday night that Bond has accepted Starke's offer to withdraw his name. Blazar said a new nominee would be announced.

"I've withdrawn because I would never want to be a liability nor an embarrassment to Sen. Bond or to my president," Starke told The Sedalia Democrat.

"And because of this recent controversy, I'm just afraid that sometime in the future it could become an issue and could become an embarrassment or a liability," he said. "So I've asked them to take my name out of consideration."

The e-mail that Starke admitted forwarding came to light when Ida Shobe, president of the Sedalia chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, passed out copies at Monday night's meeting of the Sedalia City Council. She said she received the e-mail on Sept. 26 from a woman she declined to identify.

The e-mail contains the words, "You know you be at a Ghetto funeral..." followed by a list of 15 entries, and Starke acknowledged it contained "some racial overtones."

"It's supposed to be a joke," he said. "I read it, and it's really not funny."

"I'm not a racist," the sheriff said. "It's unfortunate that I forwarded it. ... I would like to think that it's no reflection of who I am as a person or what my beliefs are. I would just hope that people would look at how I act as a person and how I treat other people."

Shobe said she is distressed because Starke and his wife, Caroline, are longtime friends of hers and because she has been encouraging blacks to cooperate with and connect with the police to improve conditions on Sedalia's north side.

"Now they're not going to be connected because they're not going to trust nobody," Shobe said.

Shobe said she has accepted the sheriff's apology and told him he needed to make a public apology to black people.

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