NAACP holds public meeting in York alongside mayor to discuss police lip sync challenge video

YORK, Pa.  -- The NAACP held a public meeting on Tuesday alongside York Mayor Michael Helfrich.

This comes after after he pulled a York City Police lip-sync video from airing because it featured Maple Donuts, calling it controversial.

York City Mayor, Micheal Helfrich, the NAACP and community members who attended, dissected the video and discussed what it was about the video that made it so offensive to some and why it should have never been released.

"There are many opinions floating and some say it’s just a nice video and many who say that don’t really know the history of Maple Donuts," said Sandra Thompson, NAACP York Chapter President.

Sandra Thompson, president of the NAACP in York says the video,  which was all a part of a fundraiser is offensive because it features Maple Donuts, a company known for its political slogans and advertising.

"They're not open, it's not inviting to people of all beliefs as you walk through they door and they’re not necessarily treated the same," said Thompson.

One of the many reasons, Mayor Michael Helfrich claims he made the decision to pull the video from airing, prompting the NAACP meeting.

“They’ve chosen issues that are extremely racially divisive to put into their advertising," said Helfrich. "When it comes to we don’t take a stand, we take a knee, that’s a very divisive issue, people have very strong opinions on both sides, I don’t want any of those opinions involved with our city police department," he added.

“When Maple Donuts put the OJ sign up we thought ok, it might be a little funny but we’re watching, so when they put that sign up about when we stand and we don’t kneel, now you’re talking about people dying in my streets, ok so when you do a jelly donut on the street, we’re thinking about cops killing the men and women on our streets," Sarena Barnes, meeting attendee.

"I really hope that maybe these conversations tonight might enlighten the police and others as to how much real damage this has," said Helfrich. "I’d rather have ten thousand people mad at me on Facebook than have people not trust our police and that was my goal the whole time," he added.

FOX43 spoke with the owner of Maple Donuts about the video.

He says York's mayor decided to make the video a political issue, adding that he and his company just wanted to help the police department and the city.

”We just want to raise money for the police department, and then the York Revolution. that's all we wanted to do. and we'll continue to do that," said Charles Burnside, owner of Maple Donuts. "I  think the businesses in York will come together and we'll raise the amount of money that was needed for this cause," added  Burnside.

You can see the interview with Maple Donuts here:

At the end of the meeting, the NAACP took suggestions from community members to include in action items on what can be done to move forward.

Some of those action items included, creating a new video that would be more quote -- 'culturally sensitive.'

Others in attendance also felt that York City Police should be held accountable for their actions, however Helfrich says he believes there was a gap in knowledge when creating the video and he does not plan to condemn them for the mistake.

UPDATE 8/29: NAACP released a statement outlining a list of recommendations following the meeting:

Whereas the collaboration between York City Police Department and a controversial private entity caused community division;
Whereas York NAACP held a public meeting and received public comments on the issue;
Whereas York City Mayor Helfrich stated that the York City Police Chief lacked an understanding of the private entity's controversial stances and any potential negative affect on the York City community;
Whereas Mayor Helfrich stated that he forbid the collaboration, yet it occurred anyway;
Whereas Mayor Helfrich confirmed York City lacked license and control over the produced video;
Whereas Mayor Helfrich committed that the video would not be shown through any York City department or on any York City media;
Whereas Mayor Helfrich requested community input on how to avoid similar future situations;

IT IS THEREFORE recommended by the York NAACP that York City Government:

1- implement diversity and cultural sensitivity training with Department heads;
2- institute community conversations when encountering issues, plans, productions, and/or contracts with a potential impact on the community;
2- maintain control over any and all media products involving York City Departments; and
3- assure accountability in the execution of policies, procedures, and protocols in all future actions.
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