Conn. school rep apologizes for ammo comment

6:15 PM, Nov 21, 2013   |    comments
The "26 Days of Kindness" campaign began Nov. 19, 2013, and ends Dec. 14, the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. (Photo: Facebook)
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Facing calls to resign before even taking his seat, a recently elected Connecticut school board member has apologized for saying he would buy friends "a box of ammunition" for each of the "26 Days of Kindness" commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre.

Gregory Beck, a 26-year-old police dispatcher and volunteer firefighter, was elected earlier this month in Brookfield, which borders Newtown, scene of the Dec. 14 elementary school bloodbath.

"I shall buy my friends who are gun enthusiasts a box of ammunition on days 1-26," Beck wrote on his Facebook page Tuesday, when the acts-of-kindness days began.

Wednesday, Beck, a Republican, issued a statement of apology, but he did not say he would yield to calls from the board of education, local officials and residents to resign before he is sworn in.

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.

Ray DiStephan, outgoing chairman of the Brookfield Board of Education, called Beck's ammunition comment "disturbing" and said he should resign.

"I'm angry, hurt and disturbed, professionally and personally," he told the DanburyNews Times. "As a parent, I'm worried about the idea of having a person with the judgement to make such a post making decisions about their education and safety," he said. "I don't think he should be on the Board of Education. He should resign."

Tuesday night, the Republican Town Committee released a statement saying it " strongly condemns" Beck's comment and asking him to resign.

Some Brookfield parents agreed.

"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," Linda Frame, a mother of four, told WVIT-TV.

"To go on a page and to make such a heartless comment is very concerning to me as a mother, that he'll now be in charge of my children's education," Brookfield resident Eileen Straiton told New Haven TV station WTNH.

A former school board member, Robert Gianazza, defended Beck, saying that he was "entitled to his own opinion" and that he likely meant no harm. "It's probably not the brightest thing to post on Facebook,' he told the News Times.

Gianazza, who was recently elected to the town's finance board, said the remark likely reflected anger among gun owners who are "particularly offended because it is unreasonable to expect everyone to give up their guns because one person went berzerk'' in Newtown.

"It's time to let this tragedy go," he said. "It's painful, it hurts. Let's stop bringing it up every five minutes."

Beyond his Facebook comment, Beck may face additional concerns about his suitability for the school board because of his Twitter account and interests.

In addition to saying he's a "scanner junkie," Beck links to #KCCO -- "Keep Calm, Chive On," referring to the popular (and regularly NSFW) photo-video site The Chive.

Chive and chiving have several meanings, some with sexual overtones. Here's the Twitter context:

The verb 'Chive' means to act sexy, stupid and raucous for the attention of the opposite sex. This can often be seen at workplaces, and so it has recently become a thing for women to take photos of themselves being sexually provocative at work and uploading them to Twitter with the hashtag #KCCO.

USA TODAY was unable to contact Beck for comment.


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