Allegations of anti-Muslim remarks made
Dunwoody assistant city attorney Lenny Felgin resigned Feb. 1 following allegations of anti-Muslim remarks on Facebook.
Felgin, who represents Dunwoody through Riley McLendon, a metro Atlanta law firm with contracts throughout the city and DeKalb County, allegedly posted derogatory remarks about Muslims on a Facebook thread on Jan. 30.
The thread in question pertains to an article dealing with Canada allowing refugees into the country.
Though Felgin claims he did not write the posts and was hacked, he resigned the following Wednesday from Riley McLendon, thus ending his involvement with the city of Dunwoody.
On Feb. 13, Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal made a statement about the issue before a city council meeting.
“Our community has recently experienced an incident which rightfully caused deep concern among our citizens,” Shortal said. “A couple of weeks ago the city became aware of an inappropriate social media post allegedly posted by our former city attorney, who works for a contracting firm. One of the precepts of our nation is that everyone is innocent until proven guilty without reasonable doubt, so that required us to proceed with great diligence to do what is right for everyone, gather the facts, and treat everyone fairly and justly.”
According to Shortal, an investigation was launched immediately by Riley McLendon and Felgin was placed on paid administrative leave.
“Shortly thereafter, [Felgin] submitted his resignation from the contract firm and was permanently removed from the position,” Shortal said. “[Felgin] denied making the post and said that his system was hacked.”
Shortal said the Dunwoody Police Department is conducting a thorough identity theft investigation into Felgin’s system and that a subpoena was issued to Facebook to gather additional data.
“We will search for and disclose data that is specified with particularity in an appropriate form of legal process and which we are reasonably able to locate and retrieve,” the guidelines state. “We do not retain data for law enforcement purposes unless we receive a valid preservation request before a user has deleted that content from our service.”
Facebook has law enforcement guidelines requiring either a subpoena issued in connection with an official criminal investigation, a court order or a search warrant.
Felgin’s attorney, Noah Rosner, told the press there is no evidence that Felgin made the remarks despite screen captures of the incident.
“He has provided the police, the city and his firm with his cell phone and computers to conduct their own investigations, and their investigations have not revealed any evidence he posted any of those posts,” Rosner said.
Lenny Felgin’s Facebook page has been deleted or gone private since the incident, as have all of his posts.
Shortal said this type of behavior has no place in the Dunwoody community.
“The city of Dunwoody does not tolerate harassment or profound behavior,” Shortal said. “We are a community made up of different faiths, different places of worship, different nationalities and different races. We provide equal treatment to all and uphold the values of equality, inclusion and diversity.”
Dunwoody resident Aasees Kaur spoke at the Feb. 13 council meeting to address “anti-immigrant and anti-Brown rhetoric” and to pose questions to council and Shortal. She asked council to host a public event or town hall addressing immigration.
“Within the past couple of weeks, we have seen that this was a chance for us to come out as leaders in terms of equality, justice and inclusiveness, but we’ve instead taken a step back and didn’t,” Kaur said. “We further the divide and gap that’s already hovering above our nation right now… seeing this hateful rhetoric and personally being impacted by being Brown; I’m a product of immigration and it’s hitting way too close to home.”
Resident Bob Lundsten also expressed his disappointment about the incident and that the resignation came before the investigation was completed.
“I wear my support for refugees on my sleeve—I blog about it, I post about them on Facebook with pride,” Lundsten said. “When I read the comments attributed to Lenny, I was at first outraged…What followed was disappointment. The council’s lack of response with independent comments and simply relying upon a PR release by [Dunwoody spokesman Bob Mullen] and [City attorney Cecil McLendon’s] claim that Lenny didn’t do it wasn’t enough from our city’s legal firm.”
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