Tom Eckerle resigning, Leelanau County official to resign after defending racist slur.

An elected official in a mostly white county in northern Michigan who used a racist slur prior to a public meeting to describe Black people in Detroit will resign, the county administrator said Friday.

Leelanau County Administrator Chet Janik said Tom Eckerle, a member of the county road commission, would step down after receiving criticism from across the U.S. for his comments.

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“I personally and professionally think it’s in the best interests of Mr. Eckerle, the road commission and Leelanau County,” Janik told The Associated Press.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reported that Eckerle had informed the newspaper of his plans to quit, saying he didn’t want to “burden” a newly hired road commission manager scheduled to begin work this month. Eckerle did not return a call from the AP. But in a phone interview earlier Friday, he repeated the slur while maintaining he was not a racist.

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Eckerle spent much of the interview attacking Black Lives Matter, saying a mention of the decentralized movement against racial injustice and police brutality is what set him off ahead of a Tuesday meeting.

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“I’m not a racist,” Eckerle said. “Black Lives Matter is racist. If I believed in Black Lives Matter, I would be racist. … Black Lives Matter has no heart. And that is as offensive to me as the N-word,” he added, then used the full racist slur.

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