Aurora City council candidate Russell Wagner says ‘Black Privilege’ Facebook post wasn’t an endorsement

“I remember thinking ‘hmm, that’s interesting,’” Wagner said of the post. “Look, from time to time people share things (on social media) that are thought-provoking, and I thought this was thought-provoking.”

AURORA | A shared Facebook post from 2015 made by Aurora City Council candidate Russ Wagner is raising eyebrows for how it contextualizes numbers claiming more white people have been killed by black people than vice versa.

The infographic-style post is titled “Looks Like Black Privilege To Me” and features statistics claiming there have been 62,593 black victims of white violence and 320,082 white victims of black violence. The statistic does not list a timeframe for those instances.

Additionally, the post says from 1999 to 2011 2,151 white people were killed by police, whereas 1,130 black people were killed by police in the same time period.

Since the controversy arose Tuesday, permissions for the Facebook account have been altered to prevent the public from seeing that and other posts.

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An Oct. 10 screenshot of Aurora City Council candidate Russell Wagner's Facebook page. The page permission settings have since been altered to prevent general public access to the meme, which some critics say is "anti-black." Wagner said the post and his brief "hmmmm" comment should not be construed as an endorsement of the meme.

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Aurora City Council candidate Russell Wagner. Photo by Philip Poston/Aurora Sentinel

Some circulating the post say it is at best a questionable meme that is out of tune with Wagner’s campaign slogan of “Positive. Inclusive. Responsible.”

One tweet from @LiberativePT read: ‘ICYMI: At-large @AuroraGov candidate Russ Wagner shares inaccurate antiblack meme on FB. His slogan is “positive, inclusive, responsible.”‘

Wagner shared the post with a comment of “Hmmm,” which he told the Aurora Sentinel wasn’t a gesture of support.

“I remember thinking ‘hmm, that’s interesting,’” Wagner said of the post. “Look, from time to time people share things (on social media) that are thought-provoking, and I thought this was thought-provoking.”

The information on the infographic is attributed to the 2010 National Crime Victimization Survey, which doesn’t include the same information as is included in the Facebook post Wagner shared, but rather accounts for the victimizations against certain demographics.

For example, the report found that the violent victimization reported to police against Hispanic, black and white males were all very similar in 2010. But doesn’t specify the race of the person committing the act of violence.

Donald Trump shared a similar image in 2015 claiming that 81 percent of white people killed in 2015 were killed by black people. The FBI cited the number was actually 15 percent. Likewise, the post said 2 percent of black people murdered in the U.S. were murdered by white people, the number was actually 8 percent.

The report featured in Wagner’s shared post was produced by the Department of Justice and does not include information specific to the number of people killed by police either.

When asked during the Channel 8 candidate forum whether he would support a commission to examine complaints of inappropriate force by the Aurora Police Department, Wagner was hesitant to embrace a fully independent commission.

“I think you need expert opinion on that board. Citizens play a critical role but they can’t be the entire function of that board,” Wagner said. “So I do think we do need to have it, but education and community involvement around it is the next step.”

Wagner said transparency is something “we can do a better job at,” but he had concerns that there may be a legality issue for a truly independent board.

The Aurora Police Association endorsed Wagner for his bid for one of the open at-large seats.

Wagner said he when he saw news circulating of the two-year-old shared post on social media he didn’t remember what the post was about, adding that he likely shared it because he thought the statistics were interesting.

“I was disappointed,” Wagner said of seeing the post about his Facebook history.

He said him and some of the other at-large candidates made a pact to avoid running a negative campaign. While Wagner said he didn’t believe an opponent was circulating the post, he did believe it was a friend of an opponent who was doing so.