The Sevier County Commission met during their regularly scheduled meeting time on Monday. The meeting was filled with protesters who were upset with the behavior of Commissioner Warren Hurst at the previous Commission meeting.
Last month, Commissioner Hurst went on a homophobic, racist rant during the official Commission meeting, which sparked national backlash and gained nation-wide publicity.
During the October meeting, as previously reported by The Daily Beacon, Hurst made several outlandish comments, claiming that white men in the U.S. are losing their rights. He then referenced Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a current 2020 presidential candidate, calling him a “queer.”
Following the October meeting, national backlash ensued and Buttigieg even responded.
“He’s right that there is a gay man running for president,” Buttigieg told a reporter back in October, “He doesn’t seem to be right about much else.”
Multiple officials came out against Hurst’s comments, including the Sevier County Mayor who said Hurst’s comments do not reflect his own views.
Democratic State Rep. Gloria Johnson, who represents Knox County in the Tennessee House of Representatives, called on Hurst to resign from the Commission. Johnson was sure to mention social media posts she had seen of people refusing to visit Sevier County any longer due to Hurst’s comments.
Due to the large backlash, many expected fireworks to erupt at Monday night’s meeting, the first since Hurst’s outburst. While there were more than 200 protestors in attendance, however, they all expressed that they were there out of love, not anger.
Those protesting at the meeting wore red, claiming it represented the love they were there to portray.
“We’re not here out of anger,” Billy Bailey, a Pigeon Forge pastor said. “We’re here to talk about love.”
Following a mere fifteen minutes of business, the Commission opened the meeting up into a town hall format, allowing Bailey and others to voice their opinions, concerns and in many cases support.
Some, like resident Corkey Miller, spoke against Hurst’s comments.
“Change is coming,” Miller said. “You can embrace change or not.”
Others, like Amy Williams, came in support of Hurst. She thanked Commissioner Hurst and discussed the protection of first amendment rights.
Though the importance of the first amendment was a hot topic throughout the evening, several in attendance criticized the media, Williams claiming the local media outlets’ coverage of the controversy was “biased.” Her comments drew some applause from the crowd.
By the end of the meeting, after multiple citizens in attendance had spoken, the Sevier County Mayor thanked those who spoke for the “respectful manner” in which they expressed their views.
Commissioner Hurst did not speak throughout the meeting, refused to speak with press and was seen leaving the room out of a side door after the meeting ended.
Commissioner Hurst did not respond to multiple attempts made by The Daily Beacon for comment on the matter.