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Black Leaders in Burlington Press City on Bank Issue

David Hightower
Pastor Rob Brown speaks to the Burlington City Council 04/05/21

Black leaders in Burlington want to know if the city will continue to do business with Farmers & Merchants Bank. They said nothing has been done in the months since Bank Vice President Lisa Walsh made a racial comment on social media.

Representatives from the Black Leadership Council, including Pastor Rob Brown, attended Monday's city council meeting.  Brown said the city has done nothing for the Black community since Walsh made the comment.

"Please just understand our frustration. Nothing is being done. Who's protecting the Black community? Who's speaking up for us?” Brown asked. “Everybody talks about the good of F&M, what about the Black community?"

Brown said he and other community leaders want the city council to go on record with a vote on whether to continue doing business with F&M so that the community knows where each councilperson stands on the issue. 

Mayor Jon Billups said he would put the issue on a future work session agenda so they can discuss it. 

The Black Leadership Council has previously been involved in discussions with the city and local school boards as to whether government agencies would continue doing business with F&M, although Brown says nothing has been resolved. 

Walsh made the comments in question in November, 2020 during a contentious political season.

Walsh wrote on Facebook, "I do not want to be run by a minority slut Vice-President."

Walsh later wrote an apology letter that was published in The Burlington Hawk Eye newspaper.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

David Hightower is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.