That was a quick backtrack: Legendary civil rights activist Andrew Young apologized for calling some of the protesters marching against police violence “unlovable little brats.”
He told WSB’s Sophia Choi on Tuesday that he never meant to offend the protesters, only to thank the police officers who showed restraint during the demonstrations.
“I apologize if I got overemotional,” Young told Choi about the comment.
Young said that comment was directed only at the young protesters who tried to provoke police and those who tried to run onto the interstate, putting lives in danger.
“I was panicked,” Young told Choi. “I was anxious, lest some of these young people run out on an expressway.”
Young said even his own granddaughter had some choice words for him.
“She said she was ashamed of me and she said, ‘You ought to know better,’” Young said.
Young, a former U.S. ambassador, made the initial comments Sunday when he was asked to talk to a few dozen officers at a southwest Atlanta precinct. They came shortly after a standoff between police officers and thousands of protesters who tried to block the interstate in downtown Atlanta late Friday.
“These kids are able to show off with no consequences. I just hope they get tired of it,” Young said Sunday, adding that he worried they will “mess up the climate we have taken 50 years to build.”
Incensed by the remarks, the Georgia NAACP suggested that Young retire. From our AJC colleague Richard Halicks:
The extraordinary résumé of the 84-year-old Young — lieutenant of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., congressman, U.N. ambassador, two-term Atlanta mayor, businessman — affords him the opportunity to speak out where and when he pleases. But his meeting with Atlanta police officers did not sit well with some who usually count themselves as admirers.
“While not discounting Andrew Young’s historical contributions to this nation’s progress, Mr. Young cannot cloak himself with the memory of Dr. King and expect that serious students of the civil rights movement will not call foul on his statements denigrating legitimate protest only to appease his establishment and corporate friends,” state NAACP President Francys Johnson said in a statement Monday.
Johnson said Young should demand an end to police shootings of black Americans or “go quickly and quietly into a well-deserved retirement.”