JASPER COUNTY, Mo. – Protesters gather to the Carthage square to call for the resignation of Jasper County Commissioner John Bartosh.
“The posts that were made by Commissioner John Bartosh, they are insensitive and they lack cultural competency that we would expect to see from our representative and a leader in our community,” says Dola Flake, Co-Organizer of Joplin for Justice, the group that held the protest.
Controversy surrounding the commissioner started last month when his sixteen-year-old son posted a TikTok video showing him singing racist lyrics and drinking at a local bar.
That brought to light a controversial post that Bartosh shared to his Facebook page in 2019. Once in June, and then again in November.
“It is unacceptable for someone in a county commissioner position to make anti islamic posts in a community where the mosque has been burned to the ground less than ten years ago,” says Josh Shackles, the Democratic Candidate in Missouri House District 161.
“We collectively are very disappointed that Mr. John Bartosh has had responses that his anti Islamic post was just a joke, and has still not come forward with a statement of apology, or even acknowledgement that we are calling for the resignation of his position,” adds Flake.
Protesters chanted “Resign Bartosh,” and marched around the square during their three-hour-long protest. But opinions also clashed.
“People make up stuff like this and call it racism. That’s not racism,” says Jasper County Resident Jerrold Myrs. ”
Several residents showed up, either in support of Bartosh, against the protest, or just to observe. They circled the square, watched from across the street, stood beside the protesters and voiced their opinion on why they think the post is being blown out of proportion.
“Freedom of speech comes with consequences, but you have the right to that. And this cancellation… everybody get’s fired for what they’re saying, there wouldn’t nobody have a job,” says Myrs.
“There’s a system already in place to deal with election officials that commit crimes or anything like that. But as far as social justice, they’re just going too far,” adds Carthage Resident Ken Cole.
“There is a very high expectation that you will be respectful of all people and also inclusive, even in your personal life, when you are an elected official,” says Flake.
We called Bartosh before the protest started for comment, but he hung up before we could say why we were calling.
We also reached out to Commissioners Adams and Flanigan for comment, but have not heard back from them.