Valley Stream Village Clerk Robert Barra announced his retirement Thursday after being condemned for his Facebook post saying participants in the Women’s March on Washington “should have been aborted.”
His remarks have been criticized by a number of people and organizations, including the Valley Stream mayor’s office and legislators running for Nassau County executive.
Barra, 56, of Lynbrook, said he previously planned his retirement and that the posting was a joke meant for a friend.
“Most of the pro-choice people I saw probably should have been aborted,” Barra wrote on his personal Facebook page.
He said he made the comments Wednesday evening while condemning inflammatory statements he saw during the march in Washington, D.C., last weekend, which drew hundreds of thousands of people protesting President Donald Trump and his policies. Similar marches in cities around the world drew large crowds.
“My intention was it was on a private Facebook page talking to a friend of mine,” Barra said Thursday. “It was a joke. I think that they should be more wary of the people around children calling for blowing up the White House. It’s uncalled for.”
Singer Madonna said in a speech at the Washington event that she had thought about blowing up the White House.
Valley Stream Mayor Edwin Fare’s office issued a statement Thursday saying, “The Village of Valley Stream emphatically condemns the personal and private statements expressed by Robert Barra. Mr. Barra is no longer employed by the Village of Valley Stream, and does not in any way express the views of this administration.”
“I am disgusted by Bob Barra’s comments, and he owes women across our community an apology,” Nassau County Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin) said in a statement. “For a public official to so cravenly and grotesquely attack his neighbors, simply because he disagrees with them politically, is an embarrassment to our community and exactly what’s wrong with politics today.” Curran is running for Nassau County executive.
Assemb. Charles Lavine (D- Glen Cove), who also has voiced interested in running for county executive, said in a statement condemning Barra’s post that “Many men, including me, marched proudly with our sisters. In New York, we will not return to the days when our sisters, mothers and daughters were second class citizens.”
Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, who is also running for county executive, tweeted: “Robert Barra appropriately resigned as a public official. There should be no tolerance in the public square for hateful & insulting remarks.”
Barra said in an interview that he defends “everyone’s right to march and will defend that to the grave.”
“I’m very disturbed by some elements of the Women’s March,” he added, “I think 90 percent of the people in the parade were good people, and I think they wanted to have their voice heard. Part of it was a bunch of anarchists, mad because their candidate lost and they need to move forward as a country.”
Barra did not say whether he stood by or would retract the comments, but said he is not in favor of overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark abortion rights case, Roe v. Wade.
Barra, a Republican, served in the state Assembly from 2000 to 2010 when he decided not to seek re-election. He was previously appointed to the Hempstead Town Board for one year and served for six years on the Lynbrook Village Board.
Valley Stream Village officials paid Barra a salary of $134,723 in 2015. He has worked for the village since 1985. He was also paid $24,225 by Nassau County as a part-time golf course attendant.
Barra did not say whether he planned to pursue a future career in government or politics.
“I’m going to wait and see and relax for awhile,” Barra said.