A newly-elected school board member in a town bordering Newtown, Conn., apologized Wednesday after facing calls to step down over a controversial Facebook post he made in reference to last year's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Gregory Beck, a school board member-elect and police dispatcher in Brookfield, pledged to buy his friends ammunition during Newtown's 26 Days of Kindness, an effort taking place ahead of the Dec. 14 anniversary of the massacre.
“I shall buy my friends who are gun enthusiasts a box of ammunition on days 1-26,” the post on Beck’s Facebook page said. Beck acknowledged on Wednesday that the post was insensitive and said didn't mean to cause any harm.
Beck's apology reads as follows:
This Tuesday (11/19/13), I commented on a Facebook post of a friend. At the time of the post, it was not apparent to me that this comment would be seen as an insensitive post. The comments were insensitive and completely indefensible. I acknowledge the damage this has caused and truly had no malicious intentions. Nor were there any attempts on my part to downplay the Sandy Hook Tragedy behind the comment.
It is said that hindsight is 20/20 and looking back, I should never have even conceived of making the comment. For this reason, I unequivocally apologize to the citizens of Brookfield, Newtown and all others whom I have offended or hurt. I am sorry for my mistake and ask for your forgiveness which I hope to earn with time.
I know that learning from mistakes make us better people and I have already learned much from this one. I will try to be much more conscious of my future actions and comments that I will not unintentionally hurt people as I have done. I am truly sorry.
With deepest regret and sincere apology,
Gregory A. Beck
Local officials on both ends of the political spectrum are condemning Beck's comment, and some have been asking him to step down.
“The [event] post wasn't about guns,” Ray DiStephan, current chairman of the Brookfield Board of Education, said. “It was about doing something kind for people in memory of some kids who were killed.”
The Republican Town Committee called on Beck to step down from the Board of Education before he even starts his term. DiStephan, a Democrat, agreed.
"This is about common decency and these are our neighbors in Newtown and people in this town were greatly affected by what happened there," DiStephan said.
Parents in the community are also outraged.
"If we're trying to teach our children to be accountable with what they do on social media and the adults aren't being accountable for it, it's a problem," said Linda Frame, a parent of four children in Brookfield.
Others don't feel what Beck said was a problem, including Robert Gianazza, a former board of education member.
On Tuesday night, he said over the phone that Beck's remark was off-handed and taken out of context.
Brookfield First Selectman Bill Davidson disagreed.
"People are entitled to their opinions but under these circumstances they should not have been made public on something like Facebook," Davidson said.
"I think we need to call for this gentleman not to take his position come the day he's supposed to be sworn in," DiStephan said.
Beck is also a dispatcher for the Brookfield Police Department, which some feel makes his comments all the more egregious.