Parkersburg city councilman Barber faces backlash, defamation lawsuit

By EVAN BEVINS

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

Parkersburg resident Russ Bowers, left, was one of more than 80 people who attended Tuesday’s City Council meeting and one of several asking council to take some action in response to a Facebook post by Councilman Eric Barber that has gone viral and drawn widespread criticism.
(News and Sentinel photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG, W.Va.  — Parkersburg City Councilman Eric Barber’s recent social media post drew a great deal of criticism at Tuesday’s council meeting, on the same day a city resident filed a defamation lawsuit against Barber for claiming in an online post that the other man might be a pedophile.

Barber’s Facebook comment in which he wrote “Better get you’re coathangers ready liberals” in response to news of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s impending confirmation was screen captured and widely shared over the weekend, appearing on websites for Newsweek, The Hill and more. While Barber has said the “poorly worded and insensitive at best” comment was in reference to a protester throwing a coat hanger in his face in Washington, D.C., after Kavanaugh’s nomination was announced, most people took it as a reference to dangerous abortions performed before the process was legalized by the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

“This despicable post infuriates me to the core of my being because I have (a) personal connection to a person who had a coat hanger abortion,” Parkersburg resident Sue Ellen Waybright said. “It has been reshared thousands of times from Florida to Canada and all points west, and none of those shares paint a positive picture for the City of Parkersburg and its residents.”

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