At the April 5 regular meeting, Alderman Marvin Jarrett read into the record the content of an email sent by Alderman Joe St. Columbia which included the statement, "This is what happens when you put monkeys into run the zoo."
Jarrett, after reading a story reporting the email from bluearkansasblog.com, said, "I wanted to hear an explanation from Councilman St. Columbia and to keep this from being swept under the rug."
St. Columbia claims he merely forwarded an email with that in it and added to it. However, he did admit to, at a minimum, forwarding the controversial comment to "15 of his friends." He said, "I am not a racist."
Willis ardently defended St. Columbia saying, "I regret this being brought to this body. I have known Mr. St. Columbia for 25 years and have done business with him. He is not a racist....I repeat. He is not a racist."
Jarrett offered a resolution that stated, "Now therefore be it resolved that the City Council of Helena-West Helena, AR....hereby strongly censure (officially condemns) Joe St. Columbia, elected alderman Ward 2, for his racist reference, which is quoted as "This is what happens when you put monkeys into run the zoo...." as occurring on March 18, 2011 on http://bluearkansasblog.com and, the City Council of Helena-West Helena, Phillips County, AR undeniably requests the IMMEDIATE RESIGNATION of Alderman Joe St. Columbia.
The resolution passed by a vote of 6-4. Aldermen Jarrett, Don Etherly, Monica Davis, Christopher Franklin, Lakesia Chandler, and Larry Brown voted in favor of the resolution. Aldermen Eddie Clark and Daniel Strickland joined the white alderman, St. Columbia and Jay Hollowell, in defending St. Columbia.