Fort Worth

Fort Worth anti-discrimination official accused of posting racist content on Facebook

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A Fort Worth man used his Facebook profile to share racist and demeaning posts for months while sitting on a city council commission aimed at battling discrimination, a TCU professor said.

Mike Steele joined the Human Relations Commission in May of 2015, but for at least the past several months a public Facebook profile under his name has shared content attacking transgender people, Muslims and immigrants and seemingly called for civil war.

“Buy ammo,” Steele wrote above a Fox News story about Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

A city employee confirmed Steele’s role on the commission. According to a city statement, Mayor Betsy Price asked Steele to resign. Steele did not respond to a message for comment.

Steele, 51, a former Watauga city council member, drew public scrutiny Tuesday morning when Emily Farris, a Texas Christian University political science professor, began tweeting screenshots of his Facebook posts.

She said she was appalled to see Steele’s public profile, calling his posts “racist, sexist, transphobic, and anti-immigrant.”

“As an officer of the city serving on a commission dedicated to eliminating prejudice and discrimination, Mr. Steele’s posts are completely out of line with the mission of the Human Relations Commission,” she said. “The city wishes to promote the message of ‘y’all means all,’ yet a member of its commission leading on issues of inclusion is posting derogatory and discriminatory messages on his public social media.”

The Human Relations Commission is tasked with advising the city council and manager on racial, religious, or ethnic discrimination, making recommendations designed to eliminate discrimination and promoting cooperation among groups. Members apply and are appointed by the Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, a council committee that currently includes council members Dennis Shingleton, Kelly Allen Gray, Gyna Bivens and Jungus Jordan. The commissioners are volunteer and do not receive compensation.

The city council first approved Steele, 51, for the board on March 17, 2015, according to meeting minutes. His current term ends this October. A Facebook page for the commission frequently tagged Steele’s profile, sometimes within hours of him posting questionable content.

Shingleton, the current chairman of the committee, said he didn’t know Steele and wasn’t aware of the posts. He said the council and city needed to investigate the posts.

“We need make a decision on this quickly, I can say that,” he said. “We don’t need that sort of negativity.”

Facebook posts

Steele posts hundreds of times a month, sometimes dozens of times a day. Most posts are photos of animals and pro-Donald Trump links. But peppered through the benign posts advocating for pet adoption, Steele shares content that seemingly advocate for civil war, demean transgender people and make fun at Mexicans.

On Feb. 27, Steele shared an opinion column from the Federalist website titled “It’s Time For The United States To Divorce Before Things Get Dangerous,” advocating for splitting the country up along party lines.

In other posts, he advises people to arm themselves ahead of some pending conflict.

In May he shared a photo of a firing pin with the text, “People who don’t know what these are should not instigate a new civil war with those who do.” That same month he shared a Fox News story regarding Pelosi by saying, “Civil War is coming folks...”

Above a video of Bernie Sanders and talk show host Stephen Colbert, Steele simply wrote, “Buy ammo” on Feb. 26. He made a similar comment days before when sharing a Fox News story about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. The story regarded a trip the Somali-American Democrat from Minnesota took to Honduras with Witness for Peace.

“This is what happens when assimilation is not part of the plan,” he wrote in part on Feb. 21. “We are being engulfed and infiltrated from the inside... It pains me as a patriot to see it. Buy ammo.”

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Mike Steele, member of Fort Worth’s Human Relations Commission, has been been accused of publicly posting racist and offensive content on his Facebook profile. The commission is tasked with combating discrimination in Fort Worth.

Another post that same day from The RIGHT Way shows a man in a sombrero emblazoned with “Mexico.” Over the photo, text reads, “Word of the day is climate. Trump will build the wall so high we cant (sic) ...climate.”

The post was one of several supporting Trump’s immigration policy, including a meme of Trump with text saying the president will place illegal immigrants in Pelosi’s rectum.

Steele’s posts also targeted transgender people and Muslims.

On May 12 he shared a photo from American Deplorable featuring a row of fresh-cooked bacon and Trump laughing. The text reads, “Bacon Fact: People who eat bacon are less likely to blow themselves up.” Muslims often abstain from eating pork products.

MikeSteeleBacon.JPG
Mike Steele, member of Fort Worth’s Human Relations Commission, has been been accused of publicly posting racist and offensive content on his Facebook profile. The commission is tasked with combating discrimination in Fort Worth.

SB 4

This is not the first time Steele’s social media posts have been criticized.

Members of United Fort Worth, a grassroots coalition, recall questioning Steele’s position on the Human Relations Commission in 2017.

At the time the city was debating joining a lawsuit against SB4, known as the state’s “sanctuary cities” law. Members of United Fort Worth had been communicating with council and commission members, urging them to support the lawsuit. It was then they became of aware of “inappropriate” social media posts, said Daniel Garcia Rodriquez, a co-founder and organizer.

When members inquired about Steele, they were told he represented a conservative or pro-Trump view point on the commission. He called Steele’s placement on the commission “irresponsible” because the Human Relations Commission was intended to be an unbiased, apolitical group.

“Historically this board is supposed to work on disparities in our city,” he said. “It’s hard to do that if you have a blurred perspective on what individual rights are, or racial representations are or what community well being is.”

United Fort Worth had not formally for Steele to resign or be removed from the board.

Rodriguez said Steele was “a prime example” of why a divide exists between the city and many residents, including those of immigrant and minority backgrounds.

“If you’re a person who sees this what are you supposed to think?” he said of Steele’s posts. “They’re going to feel targeted and unwelcome.”

In 2014, when Steele was running for re-election in Watauga, he listed himself in the Star-Telegram voters guide as a dealer consultant for a software company.

He wrote: “It was my tenacity that discovered poor practices, charter violations, and other offenses that were going on behind closed doors. I brought transparency back to council and city administration.”



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Luke Ranker covers the intersection of people and government focused on Fort Worth and Tarrant County. He came to Texas from the plains of Kansas, where he wrote about a lot, including government, crime and courts in Topeka. He survived a single winter in Pennsylvania as a breaking news reporter. He can be reached at 817-390-7747 or lranker@star-telegram.com.
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