ATWATER — Most City Council meetings in recent months have included calls for the resignation of Councilman Gary Frago for the racist e-mails he sent to city staff and county officials in 2008 and 2009.
Now a new set of voices has joined the chorus.
A group of University of California at Merced students, along with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is demanding that Frago step down.
At Monday night's City Council meeting, the college students lectured the council and Frago for what they said is a lack of leadership and moral standing regarding the issue.
Mason Harry, 19, a sophomore at UC Merced and president of Men About Progress, a student group, chastised not only Frago for his actions but also the council for not calling for his resignation. "Racial e-mails like this are simply unacceptable," he said.
Harry read from the city's mission statement to outline how Frago's behavior contradicts the city's standards: Frago's actions didn't promote a positive image of the city as the mission statement declares, he said. His actions didn't live up to the high moral standards the mission statement calls for, Harry added.
Graham Ellis, a 19-year-old sophomore, echoed Harry's sentiment.
"There's no room on the council for someone who spreads such hate," he said to Frago.
Ellis, who is a member of Men About Progress, said his group hopes to get more students involved in the effort to recall Frago. They plan to set up an information table on campus and perhaps hold a campus rally denouncing Frago, he added.
The students were not alone Monday night. Napoleon Washington, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, asked for Frago to resign, as he has done at several previous council meetings.
A Merced Sun-Star story on July 17 revealed that Frago sent at least seven racist e-mails to city and county officials from October 2008 to February 2009. The e-mails denigrated President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and black people in general.
Subsequently, the City Council released even more of Frago's derogatory e-mails and convened two large public meetings on the issue, during which Frago apologized, and the city reprimanded him in a letter. Subsequently, Frago completed racial sensitivity training.
Although Frago has apologized, at first he said he didn't regret sending the e-mails.
"I don't see where there's a story, I'm not the only one that does it," he told the Sun-Star in July. "I didn't originate them, they came to me, and I just passed them on."