Topeka A group of Hispanic advocates on Friday delivered to the Statehouse petitions signed by nearly 60,000 people, calling for state Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro, to resign from office for his remarks about shooting illegal immigrants.
Members of the group said they feared Peck's comment could incite violence against Hispanics and said Gov. Sam Brownback and House Speaker Mike O'Neal, both Republicans, should insist Peck step down.
Last week, Peck, during a committee discussion about a program that controls the feral hog problem by shooting them from helicopters, said, “It looks like to me, that if shooting these immigrating feral hogs works, maybe we have found a (solution) to our illegal immigration problem.”
The comment caused a national uproar. Peck initially refused to apologize but then issued a two-sentence apology, saying his statement was “regrettable.”
Many organizations said Peck’s apology didn’t go far enough and that he should resign. Peck has refused, and House Republican leaders have said they have accepted Peck’s apology. O'Neal has said Peck's comments were a "personnel matter" and that he wouldn't discuss it further.
Presente.org, a national online advocacy group for Latinos, coordinated an online petition drive calling for Peck’s resignation. The drive had more than 58,000 signers.
Guadalupe Magdaleno of Wichita appeared Friday at a news conference on the Capitol steps. She said Peck's comments could "put wrong ideas in sick minds."
The group of 10 people then delivered a box of petitions to the offices of Brownback and O'Neal.
In Brownback's office, Florentino Camacho of Kansas City, Kan. told one of Brownback's staffers, "We want him (Peck) fired. He is putting our lives, our kids' lives, and our wives' lives and our families in jeopardy," said Camacho, a former state director for the League of United Latin American Citizens. "I have grandkids. I'm afraid a crazy person is going to hurt them."
No one was present in O'Neal's office when the group tried to deliver the petitions there.
Myrna Orozco, an undocumented immigrant from Kansas City, Kan. said of Peck,"While he might have thought that this dehumanizing joke was funny, we do not believe that the genocide of children, mothers and fathers is funny."
Lalo Munoz, head of the Latino Information Network of Kansas, said, of Peck's remark, "Those comments have no place in Kansas political discourse."
Democratic leaders in the Legislature have also called for Peck's resignation. Peck has said he will not resign and has refused to talk further about the issue.