However, the local Republican Party’s chairman quickly moved to apologize to the 10 or so members who suddenly found themselves blocked from the page, and took swift action to stop any further actions by the site’s administrator.
Cherokee GOP Chairman Rick Davies said Tuesday the members were removed because of a misunderstanding between him and Joshua Means, the vice chairman of communications for the Republican Party and, along with Davies, one of the two administrators of the page.
“Due to a verbal miscommunication between myself and my VC of Communications, several people were inadvertently removed from our Facebook group,” Davies said. “Upon realizing this and after being contacted by several of those individuals via Facebook, I issued an apology to them on behalf of the CCRP for their removal.”
Davies said that he had been concerned about members of the CCRP group working with the Cherokee County Democratic Party and told Means that those people may need to be removed from the page.
“Joshua misunderstood me and removed those people who were working in concert with the SCRAM! group,” Davies said.
SCRAM! (Smart Citizens Rally Against Marlow!) is a Facebook group that was started by Christine Rea, a parent of three children in the school district, last Wednesday, and had more than 800 members as of press time.
“At this time, everyone who was removed and subsequently asked to be re-added to the group has been granted access to the group,” Davies said. “I do regret the concerns this has caused and apologize once again to the affected members of the group.”
School Board Chair Janet Read was among members who could no longer access the CCRP group, and said she never posted or commented on anything in the CCRP group, nor was she a member of the SCRAM! group. Read said she had no idea why she was no longer in the group. Read is a member of the Republican Party in Cherokee County.
“I don’t know why I was targeted, or if they didn’t remove me, why all of the sudden I couldn’t see it in my groups anymore,” Read said. “Education really needs to be non-partisan. I think that everybody in the county should have a vested interest in education, whether they’re Republican, Democrat, independent, liberal, we all need to be on the same page as far as education.”
Means said that Read was not removed, but simply lost access to the group.
“Several people have lost access to the group and been re-added over the course of the last few months, and I am addressing that problem with these most recent individuals who simply lost access. Among those who were not removed are an elected official, namely Mrs. Read, an unnamed campaign consultant from Fulton County, and an unnamed individual who supports Charter Schools,” Means said. “I, myself, am currently going through service problems with Facebook. There is a post on my timeline that I can neither see nor delete, even though others sometimes can, and I understand the frustration that can mount from unexplained coding or other technological errors. She will be re-added to the group as soon as she makes that request.”
Means said he sent her a message on Tuesday informing her that she could rejoin.
Means admitted to deleting some members from the CCRP group, and also to reporting a comment made by Rea that led to Rea being temporarily banned from Facebook.
“I felt personally harassed by that comment made by the individual you mentioned,” Means said when asked about Rea. “It took place on a page separate from the official CCRP group. Her comment was in response to my firmly made request to refrain from speaking on my behalf without first consulting me. In retrospect, I should have made a copy before I reported it to Facebook for moderation by their ‘Hate and Harassment Team.’ The post was subsequently deleted by that team.”
Rea said she was banned from Facebook for 12 hours and was not able to post or comment on the SCRAM! page, or on her personal Facebook page.
“The intent was not for it to be malicious, I was responding to his comment to me,” Rea said. “If he felt as though my post was threatening, I don’t even know what to say to that, it was hardly threatening. I’m sorry that he felt threatened by my post.”
Davies said that Means admitted to “baiting” members of the SCRAM! group in a conversation on Facebook, and said that both sides were “baiting” each other.
“In an unrelated issue, some individuals who were not removed appear to have voluntarily left,” Means said. “I, like the chairman, express my regrets over the concerns this has caused and apologize once again.”
The comment that Means reported to Facebook, which led to Rea being temporarily banned, was captured in a screenshot by Rea. The comment was deleted, and Rea said it was originally in conversation thread where she was accused of name-calling.
“You’re so angry. Sounds like you are projecting Joshua Means,” the comment read. “You seem to be the one making assumptions about me and my motives. I’ve seen what you had to say to those you deleted, frankly, I’m not impressed. I would love to see screen shots of my name-calling though if you have them. To see it is to believe it! Oh, and that would be crystal, crystal clear.”
One member of the CCRP group who was removed said that he woke up Sunday and realized that he was no longer a member of the group.
John Carter said that on Sunday morning many people were reinstated to the group who asked to be re-added. Carter said he believes that the people who were removed from the group by Means represented a group of people that disagreed with school board member Marlow and her political consultant Robert Trim.
“I feel like Means has an ax to grind,” Carter said.