WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — A comment made by West Lafayette's Mayor during a Wednesday afternoon press conference has some people seeing red.
Not only did he say it Wednesday, he said it at Monday night's city council meeting.
"I referenced them as 'unvaccinated a**holes', and unfortunately that sometimes is accurate," said Dennis during Wednesday's news briefing with the Tippecanoe County Health Department. "That's true."
Dennis' comments during the live-streamed briefing are creating outrage in the community.
"I think at the very least he owes the public an apology," Tippecanoe County resident Sarah Johnson. "I think resignation is not out of the question."
"To be so aggressive and so crass, it's just very poor leadership," said constituent Candace Bright.
The comment is concerning to Bright.
"To have the capacity to say that in public and not just immediately apologize just shows some hardness, some brittleness that I think is really disappointing," Bright said.
It's also upsetting to people who live outside the city.
"My concern is just the standard it sets for the bullying will carry over to the students and staff and teachers at the schools," said Johnson.
Dennis said that was never his intention.
"It was completely out of line," Dennis said. Completely disrespectful. Completely uncalled for."
Dennis said he's worried about going backwards in the pandemic, and the comment was fueled by concerns about the increase in COVID-19 cases locally.
It's something he said is frustrating when there are ways to control the spread.
"Self discipline will allow for us to be able to get this thing down to a manageable number or get rid of it completely, and all that is, is just getting a vaccination," he explained.
Dennis said the backlash is not going to stop him from encouraging people to get their shot.
"I'm sorry, but we need to make sure that we're all pulling on the same side of the rope when it comes to trying to get rid of this virus, whether it be through vaccinations or wearing the appropriate safety gear to make sure you don't transmit," said Dennis.
However, he doesn't blame anyone who was offended by his comment.
"Their outrage is in the right place," Dennis said. "What I did was wrong, and I accept responsibility for it, and it won't happen again. All I can hope is that at some point in time they find it in their heart to forgive me."
News 18 reached out to Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski for comment, but he respectfully declined an interview.