Ed­mon­ton DBA boss re­signs over ‘ALM’ tweet

Calgary Herald - - CITY+REGION - JEFF LABINE jlabine@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/jef­flabine

ED­MON­TON The ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Ed­mon­ton’s Down­town Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion has re­signed af­ter a strong re­buke from the or­ga­ni­za­tion for his tweet that in­cluded the hash­tag “all lives mat­ter” in the lead-up to a Black Lives Mat­ter protest last week.

Ian O’don­nell sub­mit­ted his let­ter of res­ig­na­tion as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor on Tues­day, and the board of di­rec­tors ac­cepted his res­ig­na­tion Wed­nes­day morn­ing, chair­man Robert Both­well said in an email.

“The DBA board and staff have thanked Mr. O’don­nell for his prior ser­vice to the DBA and his com­mit­ment to the down­town,” Both­well said. “The DBA re­mains fully com­mit­ted to im­ple­ment­ing the ac­tions an­nounced on June 4, in sup­port of Black, In­dige­nous and Peo­ple of Colour in our com­mu­nity. Those ac­tions are also listed on the above web page, and are be­ing in­te­grated into our work plan.”

On June 3, O’don­nell tweeted us­ing the hash­tag “#ALM,” short for “all lives mat­ter,” ahead of a Black Lives Mat­ter protest that saw thou­sands protest­ing peace­fully fol­low­ing the death of Ge­orge Floyd at the hands of a Min­neapo­lis po­lice of­fi­cer on May 25.

“Dude, I re­spect those whose re­spect each other, cops or oth­er­wise. #ALM,” O’don­nell wrote.

I have ded­i­cated much of my life to com­mu­nity build­ing and this com­ment has un­done much of that work.

A search for his Twit­ter ac­count, @Ianoyeg, on Wed­nes­day in­di­cates the pro­file no longer ex­ists.

The tweet prompted the DBA board of di­rec­tors to re­spond, say­ing “us­ing the phrase ‘all lives mat­ter’ was in­sen­si­tive, dis­re­spect­ful, and not re­flec­tive of our val­ues. We thank all those who spoke up and raised their con­cerns.”

In his res­ig­na­tion let­ter, posted on the DBA web­site, O’don­nell said he deeply re­gret­ted his tweet and plans to ed­u­cate him­self more on is­sues around in­jus­tice, un­con­scious bias and sys­temic racism.

“I fully and com­pletely apol­o­gize for us­ing ‘ALM’, a term that is as­so­ci­ated with hate and racism,” he said. “I was wrong to use it and am sorry for the hurt that it has caused. I have ded­i­cated much of my life to com­mu­nity build­ing and this com­ment has un­done much of that work. I am dis­ap­pointed that I have let oth­ers down, and I have let my­self down.”

O’don­nell has been the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the DBA since 2016.

The board said a search to re­place­ment for O’don­nell will start soon.

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