MEDLEY, Fla. – The mayor of Medley has apologized for posing in a photograph with a man in blackface at a police event.
Local 10 News obtained the photos, taken during an annual fashion show for senior citizens hosted by the Medley Police Department.
The man in blackface was also wearing a tribal-like costume and holding a spear when he posed with Mayor Roberto Martell at the African Safari-themed event.
"I never thought that it would cause this commotion or anything," Martell told Local 10. "I never thought it was wrongdoing, so I beg forgiveness for everybody that I offended without knowing."
Ruban Roberts, president of the NAACP in Miami-Dade County, said the mayor and Medley Police Department "should be aware of what those images conjure up in people of color."
"It definitely shows an ignorance, but more importantly, it shows racial insensitivity," Roberts said.
Medley Police Chief Jeanette Said-Jinete declined to answer questions but provided a statement to Local 10.
"The Medley Police Department has been running our senior fashion show for 19 years," the statement read. "This event brings our senior citizens together to promote community and have a good time. This year's theme was African Safari, and unfortunately, a 78-year-old participant dressed inappropriately and clearly did not understand how others might be offended. For this, we apologize and regret the incident."
Martell said he plans to meet with the NAACP to discuss the incident and learn from it.