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Los Alamitos mayor criticized for 'watermelon' e-mail

A recipient, who is black, asks for a public apology. The leader of the small Orange County city said he was unaware of the racial stereotype associated with the fruit.

February 25, 2009|Associated Press

The mayor of Los Alamitos is coming under fire for an e-mail he sent that depicts the White House lawn planted with watermelons, under the title "No Easter egg hunt this year."

Local businesswoman and city volunteer Keyanus Price, who is black, said Tuesday that she received the e-mail from Mayor Dean Grose's personal account Sunday and wants a public apology.

"I have had plenty of my share of chicken and watermelon and all those kinds of jokes," Price said. "I honestly don't even understand where he was coming from, sending this to me. As a black person receiving something like this from the city freakin' mayor -- come on."

The Orange County Register first reported the e-mail on its website Tuesday night.

Grose confirmed to the Associated Press that he sent the e-mail to Price and said he didn't mean to offend her. He said he was unaware of the racial stereotype that black people like watermelons.

He said he and Price are friends and serve together on a community youth board.

"Bottom line is, we laugh at things and I didn't see this in the same light that she did," Grose said. "I'm sorry. It wasn't sent to offend her personally -- or anyone -- from the standpoint of the African American race."

Grose, who became mayor in December, said he sent an apology e-mail to Price and her boss and also left her a voice-mail apology.

Regardless, Price said it will be difficult for the two to work together.

"Now I am like -- wow, is this really how he feels?" Price said.

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