Mayor, Blacks Still at Odds in Brunswick Some African Americans Still Angry with Comments Brad Brown Made after Last Year's Violent Fourth of July Incident

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Byline: Terry Dickson, Times-Union staff writer

BRUNSWICK -- Mayor Brad Brown said he plans to run for four more years in office because he enjoys the job.

"I've had too much fun," he said.

Asked what part he enjoys most, Brown said, "All of it."

Then he thought about it a moment and said, "Well . . . there's a lot more fun than downers."

Last year's Fourth of July period was a downer -- a big downer -- when hundreds of people, upset over the attempted arrest of a man who fired a gun inside city limits, turned on police officers, threw bricks and bottles and burned two patrol cars.

Brown's public description of the brawlers as "hoodlums, drug addicts and pimps for prostitutes" spurred African Americans to hold two parades, call for Brown's resignation and begin a recall petition.

But the 34-year-old banker is still in office and has offered no full apology.

"It was the truth," he said. "People were doing wrong."

Instead of a retraction or apology, Brown said only that he was referring solely to the lawbreakers, and that he was sorry if any law-abiding, hard-working residents took offense.

That has been enough for some, but not others.

There were calls for the Glynn County NAACP to condemn Brown's remarks, but Venus Holmes, the group's president, said she first wanted to hear from Brown. She accepted Brown's explanation and said the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People disagreed with the violence.

Holmes stopped short, however, of endorsing Brown's 3 1/2 years in office.

Conditions for city residents have improved, but "not to the point we want it to be," she said.

And two of the businessmen who led parades and called for Brown's resignation have not changed their minds.

"I still want him gone," said Gary Cook, owner of a Brunswick car wash. "He hasn't rebuilt any bridges."

Cook said it's not all Brown's fault. The four city commissioners have some responsibility as well, he said.

"They don't do anything to improve life and growth in the city," he said. "Until they realize human beings live in this city and do something to improve things, I think they all ought to be gone."

For example, Cook described as inhumane a city program to evict the owners of dilapidated houses and condemn the structures.

"They shouldn't take anything people live in," he said. "Putting [police] tape around it and boarding it up isn't making the city look better."

Burnette Fulton Sr., who organized another parade, said he is proud that the Fourth of July passed peaceably this year. Accounts of last year's incident have inflated it to "riot" status, but it never came close to that, he said.

Although he too called for the arrest of those who participated in the brawl, Fulton said Brown's explanation of his remarks remains unacceptable.

But apologies and explanations aside, Fulton said, "My question for the mayor is, 'What have you done for the black community?' "

The single thing that most often gets Brown in trouble with African Americans is his hobby.

An avid collector of military memorabilia, Brown sometimes puts on a Confederate uniform and participates in Civil War re-enactments and parades.

He acknowledges that he is a member of the Sons of Confederates, having qualified by way of the service of his great-great-grandfather, Henry Lawrence Pinckney McCullough.

(Brown and his wife, Debbie, have a 1-year-old son. They named him McCullough.)

But Civil War memorabilia is just part of a large collection of Brown's that includes material dating to the War of 1812. …