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State senator's chief of staff under fire for Facebook post, comments regarding Chaldean merchants

Posted at 6:02 PM, Jan 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-16 08:35:17-05

The office of State Sen. Betty Jean Alexander was inundated with phone calls this week from people who were upset by comments her chief of staff made on Facebook regarding Chaldeans.

"Our Chaldean brothers used Black Bridge card money to establish banks! Bridge cards, as you know, are redeemed for cash; right?" read just a portion of one of LaMar Lemmons' controversial posts Saturday.

Lemmons said he deleted at least one of his comments that sparked the firestorm, but he said it all began with him trying to start a conversation about unity among African Americans. Lemmons said he then reacted to one person who stated blacks were "failures" when it comes to unifying.

Lemmons suggested Chaldean business owners were exploiting poor African Americans.

The Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce released a statement that reads, in part, "LaMar Lemmons’ comments related to the Chaldean community were insensitive, hurtful and wrong,"

The chamber's president, Martin Manna, sat down with 7 Action News Wednesday to talk about why he is calling for Lemmons' resignation.

"He is representing the State of Michigan. He's a state employee," Manna said. "He's getting paid by taxpayers, and we shouldn't condone any type of behavior like this regardless of what their racial or ethnic background is. We have always been a very small, close knit community. Unfortunately, through various genocide, a lot of persecution, we've had no choice but, really, to provide for ourselves. And that helped create an environment of entrepreneurship going all the way back where we always were merchants."

Lemmons said he only regrets generalizing those who are Chaldean.

"Therefore, to all the Chaldeans that were offended by my post because they overbroadly implicated them, I sincerely apologize," Lemmons wrote on Facebook. "I will not mention you as a group on social media again. In accordance with this good faith apology and agreement, the Chaldean community agrees to hereby stop trolling me and inundating our office with anonymous calls. Deal?"

Click on the video to hear more from Manna and Lemmons in Kimberly Craig's report.