Update, November 16, 11:00 a.m ET:
Clay, West Virginia, mayor Beverly Whaling resigned from her position yesterday, per The Washington Post.
In a now-deleted status update that was posted following the election of Donald Trump, a Clay County, West Virginia, official hopped on Facebook to simultaneously express her excitement and use racist rhetoric to describe First Lady Michelle Obama. “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified first lady in the White House,” Pamela Ramsey Taylor wrote. “I’m tired of seeing an ape in heels.”
Taylor is the director of the Clay County Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization that receives both state and federal funding. Her Facebook message garnered a response from the city of Clay’s mayor, Beverly Whaling: “Just made my day Pam.”
Local station WSAZ first reported on the exchange yesterday (November 14). Over the weekend, a petition was created to remove both Taylor and Whaling from their posts. This morning, the television station reported that, per workers at the nonprofit, Taylor has been removed from her position. But that doesn’t seem to mean that she is now out of a job. Per WSAZ:
But when asked if she still has a job at Clay County Development Corporation, they said “all we can comment on is that she has been removed from her position.”
Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that both women’s Facebook pages have been deleted. Taylor is not a state or local official, but per West Virginia state code, municipal officers like Whaling can be removed for “official misconduct, neglect of duty [or] incompetence.” The circulating petition has more than 114,000 supporters. For Whaling to be fired, the lesser of 50 people or 10 percent of adults who are registered to vote in Clay elections would have to sign a petition.
Whaling issued a statement of apology via The Washington Post:
My comment was not intended to be racist at all. I was referring to my day being made for change in the White House! I am truly sorry for any hard feeling this may have caused! Those who know me know that I’m not of any way racist! Again, I would like to apologize for this getting out of hand!
WSAZ reports that Taylor posted two version of an apology—in which she said she was referring to “attractiveness,” not race—before removing her page completely. She also told the station that the aftermath of her post has become a “hate crime against me,” citing alleged death threats. Watch video of that segment below.