UPDATE: Investigation launched over Essex councillor’s “racist tweets”
A series of tweets by Essex Town Councillor Chris Vander Doelen is under investigation by the town’s Integrity Commissioner.
Robert Swayze confirmed to BlackburnNews Monday morning the investigation has begun, and he will report back to Essex Town Council with his findings soon.
“I have received over 50 emails complaining about Councillor Vander Doelen’s tweets about the “China Virus,”‘ he wrote.
If Vander Doelen hoped the firestorm over his tweets on Friday would die down over the weekend, it did not. It only burned hotter.
Vander Doelen found himself in the middle of a controversy when he announced he had tested positive for “the Chinese flu.” He also referred to the virus as the “China Originated Virus.”
He removed the tweet referring wrongly to COVID-19 as the “China Originated Virus.” According to the World Health Organization, the moniker stands for “COrona VIrus Disease.” Vander Doelen’s other tweet remains active on social media.
Condemnation came fast and furious.
Related story: Essex councillor faces backlash over social media comments
On Sunday, the Windsor District Labour Council issued a statement, saying, “although a community would hope none of its citizens would engage in such behaviour, it would certainly expect that an elected official should have the highest standard of behaviour. Councillor Vander Doelen knows the power of words from his days in journalism.”
The statement from President Brian Hogan goes on to call the comments “reprehensible.” Hogan says his organization stands in solidarity with the Asian community.
Many on social media called on Vander Doelen to apologize, and others called for his resignation.
Don Garant of Harrow tweeted in response, “We can do better @EssexON, time to boot this man from office. We don’t need this in our community.”
Another user from Windsor named Rob Johnston wrote, “People think Vander Doelen wants a debate, but it’s just a game. He knows what he is doing. Provoke, become the victim, gain attention and raise money or social clout.”
Others said Vander Doelen should know how words can hurt people considering his professional past as a journalist.
Vander Doelen has yet to respond to repeated requests for comment from BlackburnNews.com, but Monday morning on a local radio station, he said he did not intend to offend the Chinese community. He also said he has no intention of resigning his seat on Essex town council and refused to remove the remaining tweet.