AP NEWS

Chamber To Probe Listing For Alleged Hate Group Event

March 5, 2019
Chamber To Probe Listing For Alleged Hate Group Event

The Back Mountain Chamber on Tuesday announced an investigation into its executive director’s decision to post a calendar notice for a presentation by the controversial leader of an alleged anti-Muslim hate group.

Citing a report in The Citizens’ Voice, the chamber said it plans to investigate why Bill Leandri posted a calendar item for an April 18 speech by author Brigitte Gabriel, the founder of ACT for America. The Southern Poverty Law Center alleges the group is an anti-Muslim hate group.

“Mr. Leandri did not consult with the executive committee before deciding to include this event on the BMC calendar,” the chamber said in its statement. “The executive committee has formed an ad hoc committee to immediately investigate this matter, after which the executive committee will report to the board with its findings and recommendations.”

During an interview Monday, Leandri identified himself as local chapter leader of ACT for America but said he posted the event to the chamber’s calendar because “we post all community events on the calendar.” Leandry removed the calendar listing by midday Monday, and the event was canceled altogether after The Citizens’ Voice began inquiring about it.

Later in the day, Leandri announced he had resigned from his role with ACT for America.

Gabriel, a Lebanese-born Christian, has come under fire for her anti-Islam views, and her speech in the Back Mountain promised to throw “political correctness out the window in a no holds barred speech on immigration, the left’s culture war, and radical Islam.”

While her ACT for America group claims to have no tolerance for religious discrimination, the Southern Poverty Law Center alleges it is a hate group “because it pushes wild anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, denigrates American Muslims and deliberately conflates mainstream and radical Islam.”

On Monday, Leandri disputed the characterization of ACT for America being a hate group, but he declined to comment further on the matter.