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Other Officials Say Merrillville Councilman Apologized At Meeting For Blackface Photos, But No Apology On Camera

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (CBS) — An Indiana politician who was caught in blackface in old photos showed his real face in public Wednesday night, for the first time since the scandal broke.

CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar went to Merrillville, Indiana Wednesday night to track down the councilman.

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Merrillville Councilman Jeff Minchuk said, “I’m going to make a statement Tuesday at our meeting,” when De Mar approached him.

Minchuk did not want to talk about the photos that recently surfaced that show him dressed in blackface at a Halloween party he claims was nearly 20 years ago. Since then, some have called for him to step down

We caught up with Minchuk as he left a meeting that addressed the images with other town leaders.

Along with serving as an elected councilman, Minchuk is an officer with the Lake County, Indiana Sherriff’s Department.

“He’s owning it,” said Merrillville Town Clerk-Treasurer Kelly White Gibson.
“He didn’t make excuses to me.”

Gibson and Councilman Leonard White were at the table with Minchuk during the hour-long meeting.

“Those kinds of images have been used to justify violence against Black people,” Gibson said.

“Very upset. My constituents called me and said, ‘Councilman, we have to do something about this,” White said. “When the pictures came out and I saw them, it just shook me.”

In a Facebook post, Minchuk explained the Halloween costume was based on a skit from “The Dave Chappelle Show.” He said he decided to wear blackface for a laugh.

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“This was particularly painful for me, because I’ve gotten a lot of calls and a lot of people have been really upset,” Gibson said, “but I do believe him when he says he’s sorry.”

Those inside the meeting say Minchuk apologized.

“I don’t believe Jeff Minchuk is a racist,” Gibson said.

But Councilman White has not forgiven Minchuk – at least not yet.

“I haven’t – I want to hear more,” he said. “I haven’t accepted his apology. I’m not saying I’m that far off from accepting it. But it did hurt a lot of people.”

But when we gave Councilman Minchuk the opportunity to say sorry, this was what happened:

De Mar: “You don’t want to apologize?”

Minchuk: “Tuesday night.”

De Mar: “How about right now? I’m giving you an opportunity to say something. Councilman – anything at all? People who voted you in don’t deserve anything?”

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There was no apology to our camera when we gave Minchuk the chance. All he would all he would say to De Mar as he was walked out of the meeting by police was that he plans on making a public comment at a meeting on Tuesday.

Source: CBS Chicago | News Colony

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