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Texas council member quits under fire over protest response

Demonstrators use their phone lights Wednesday, June 3, 2020 in downtown Los Angeles during a protest over the death of George Floyd who died May 25 after he was restrained by Minneapolis police. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Demonstrators use their phone lights Wednesday, June 3, 2020 in downtown Los Angeles during a protest over the death of George Floyd who died May 25 after he was restrained by Minneapolis police. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

PARIS, Texas – A member of a Texas city council resigned under fire this week over a social media response he made to a protest of the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.

Paris City Council member Benny Plata submitted his resignation Tuesday at a special meeting.

Mayor Steve Clifford called the meeting to censure Plata after the council member messaged a protester, “Why don’t you leave America if it’s so bad,” The Paris News reported. Clifford also said Plata should resign.

“Our nation is in turmoil over the death of Mr. George Floyd and also due to the pandemic," the mayor said on Facebook. "Our leaders have a special responsibility to the citizens during this difficult time.”

Speaking at the emergency meeting, Plata said, “I really care about the city I serve, and I was responding to one person berating America.”

Plata had been on the council since May 11 after his unopposed election.

Paris is a city of about 25,000 residents, 90 miles (145 kilometers) north of Dallas near the border with Oklahoma. Paris had been a healthy outlier early in the COVID-19 outbreak, but an outbreak at a nursing home in April was a setback that showed the fragility of Texas’s plan to reopen faster than many states.