FAIRBANKS - Fairbanks city Mayor Jim Matherly stirred anger among many people Saturday when an item making fun of a woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault was shared from his Facebook account.
He posted an apology late Saturday.
The item — a meme — is a photograph of Christine Blasey Ford, with right hand raised as she is apparently being sworn in to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The logo of the Nike shoe brand is in the upper left. and at the bottom are the words "Believe in something, even if you can't remember anything."
The words are a parody of Nike's new slogan “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything" and which has former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick as its focal point. Kaepernick is the controversial African-American player whose kneeling during the national anthem at NFL games sparked a social justice movement among other NFL players and that has prompted regular criticism from President Donald Trump.
Matherly posted the apology and explanation on Facebook around midnight Saturday, according to a general time stamp on the post. In the post, Matherly said he was at an event at Joel's Place Skate Park & Youth Center when he received a Facebook message inquiring about the meme.
"This meme was shared on a thread of one of my friends. It was shared from my personal iPhone. It was never posted to my main page," he wrote in his note of explanation.
"Yesterday I was showing my new iPhone to my girlfriend and she was scrolling through my NewsFeed and saw the original post my friend made. She decided to share that meme about Dr. Ford in the thread, and my name was next to it," he wrote.
Matherly stated that when he returned home he saw a Facebook page "that shared all of this and many people reacted with anger." He said he also received personal messages and emails to City Hall.
"I understand the emotion surrounding this entire national conversation, and I am sympathetic to both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh and especially too ALL victims of sexual assault," he wrote. "My sincere apologies for anyone that was offended by the sharing of that meme. I am truly sorry."
Matherly's Facebook post does not explain which Facebook sharing option was used. Facebook allows a person to share an item on his or her own timeline, on a friend's timeline, in a group, in an event, on a page the person manages or in a private message.
Matherly could not be reached for comment Sunday afternoon.
City Communications Director Teal Soden said in an email response to the Daily News-Miner that the mayor is "ultimately responsible for any content on his personal Facebook page."
"No matter what a person's political views are, mocking any person that comes forward as a victim of sexual assault is in no way productive, is completely inappropriate, and in no way represents the City of Fairbanks," she said. "The City of Fairbanks is made up of several departments and hundreds of employees committed to serving the residents of Fairbanks, and this should not diminish all the good work that this organization does every day."
Contact News-Miner Editor Rod Boyce at 459-7585. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMeditor.