PEARLAND – A Pearland councilmember Woody Owens is sharing his response to controversial posts he shared on his Facebook page.
The president of Brazoria County Branch of the NAACP expressed disappointment and called the posts racist, inappropriate and anti-Muslim in nature.
“I really believe that we are a better society and that we are a better community than those posts display,” said president Eugene Howard. “That is just a disgrace. That bigotry, hatred, those dog whistles are just unacceptable.”
The Brazoria County NAACP alerted KPRC 2 of the posts and sent them in. The screenshots showed Owens' shared posts, which were mostly memes.
One of the posts with the Confederate Flag read: “PROUD DESCENDANT OF A CONFEDERATE SOLDER...WHO ELSE CAN CLAIM THIS?”
Another read: “I WONDER IF I SAID GOD BLESS DIXIE...HOW MANY OF Y’ALL WILL SAY IT BACK.”
KPRC 2 sent Ownes the screenshots and then later sat down with the councilmember, relaying the concerns levied by Howard.
During the interview, Owens shared the sentiments of the Confederacy during the Civil War era.
“A time where...my great ancestors were not free people and that’s just unacceptable and that’s how the people in my community feel,” Howard said.
Owens maintains they have shared posts, not commenting on right or wrong. He said he had ancestors who fought in the Civil War and remembers them.
“Number one, it’s history. Number it’s my great grandfather. Number three, why would you not say something? You can’t erase history,” Owens said. “To me, that relates to nothing no more than an American flag. It’s a Confederate Flag that was there at the time. Some states had it...That has nothing to do with being racist. It’s being proud of my history and the flag that was there.”
Howard said it is the wrong side of history and said more of Owens' shares were also problematic.
“He really needs to apologize to every Muslim constituent that he serves,” Howard said.
Owens addressed a meme shared that mentioned the religion, Congress and the September 11th attack.
When asked why he shared the post, Owens said he reflected on his beliefs on the pain of September 11 and security.
“Why? Because I’m a believer of 2001 and what happened, and it was the Muslim race that did it,” Owens said. "No. I’m not [anti-Muslim], I’m not...I had an office in the World Trade Center for 10 years, and they’re lucky at the time that occurred over there, there was only X number of people killed. "
When asked about another shared post with a comment on Pete Buttigieg kissing his husband on a stage of a political event, Owens said he is not homophobic.
“I don’t care what people are... You could be black, white, green, yellow. You could be gay... you could be-what do you call it? When you go either way on it? You could be whatever you want to be. I don’t care. It doesn’t affect me or my opinion not one bit at all. But for them to do it on stage in front of a live camera, it’s only done for show,” he said.
Overall, images shared by Owens are painful in many ways, Howard said.
“Those tropes are unacceptable. And if we really want to heal as a society, we can’t endorse that kind of thinking especially members like him who are supposed to look after everyone’s interest,” Howard said.
When asked what Owens had to say to residents who may look at the shared posts and feel uncomfortable, Owens said he has always served in an unbiased way and his ears are open to hearing them out.
“It’s my job as a city councilmember to represent, right now, 127,00 people,” Owens said. “They have an opportunity to get in touch with me and they have my number to do that. If that’s offensive for them, they have my number. If that’s offensive for them, it’s not meant to be offensive.”