Government

Coralville council member who called Black Lives Matters protesters 'criminals' resigns

Council member Tom Gill listens to a presentation during a Sept. 4, 2019, Coralville City Council meeting at City Hall.
Council member Tom Gill listens to a presentation during a Sept. 4, 2019, Coralville City Council meeting at City Hall. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

CORALVILLE — Longtime City Council member Tom Gill, whose remarks last week disparaging the Black Lives Matter movement brought rebukes from colleagues, has resigned.

“If you didn’t get the memo I QUIT,” Gill wrote Monday afternoon in an email sent from his iPhone to the city clerk. “See you down the road. Could you shut off my city email address. Thanks”

The Coralville City Council website was scrubbed of his photo, email address and city biography.

Gill served for a total of more than 28 years, having been on and off the council since first being appointed to an open seat in January 1987.

“I am grateful for Tom Gill’s contributions during the past 29 years, a time of significant growth and development in Coralville. I wish him the very best,” Mayor John Lundell said in a statement.

But the mayor was among those who earlier criticized comments made July 14 by Gill during a workshop session of the City Council.

“You’re probably wondering why I’ve been so volatile tonight,” Gill said in remarks first reported by the Iowa City Press-Citizen. “It’s because of BLM. And BLM, to a lot of people, is a great organization, but BLM to me is a bunch of criminals, and I have zero tolerance for criminals. Eighty percent of the town doesn’t give a damn about what you are talking about — they are fed up.”

Lundell later posted on Facebook that Gill’s comments “were offensive to me and the other members of the City Council. They in no way reflect the beliefs or values of the Council, me or our staff.”

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Gill’s current term began in 2018 and does not expire until December 2021. Lundell said the council will decide at an upcoming meeting how to fill the remaining year and a half of his term.

This marks the second time during his tenure on the City Council that Gill has quite abruptly.

A little more than a year into a four-year term, Gill made the surprise announcement in 1997 that he was leaving.

”I have a lot of other commitments,” Gill, a dentist, said at the time.

However, he was elected again in 2002 and then four times since then.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.