Outgoing Duval County GOP Chairman Rick Hartley issues letter to SCLC Monday

President Sokoni and members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,

I am sorry and apologize for the offensive words used by my associate concerning the lawlessness in Ferguson, Missouri. In the passion of the moment, people, including myself, sometimes say things that we later regret. I was wrong in not immediately condemning this terrible message.

Myself, and the Republican Party of Duval County, do not condone and wish to take the strongest position against the use of racially charged language that offends or disparages our fellow citizens.

The founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said, "Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated."

I have taken the time to read everything on the SCLC Jacksonville website. After considering what Dr. King said about why men hate each other, I decided that I must personally take action to improve my understanding of the challenges facing members of the African-American community in Jacksonville. Yesterday, Dec. 14, I completed the online application, paid my dues and I am now a member of the SCLC Jacksonville.

I look forward to becoming actively involved in listening, learning and hopefully contributing to the advancement of understanding between all men and women in our city. It is my sincere desire that all citizens have equal access to equal opportunities.

I hope that others will follow me in joining the SCLC, and engage in dialogue that enhances the lives of every citizen in Jacksonville.

Rick Hartley