Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome issued a broad open letter to the public on Friday calling for unity after seeing racist and bigoted statements posted online.

"As your mayor-president, I stand against hatred, division, and words and actions that only further divide our community," she wrote. "I do not endorse or support the opinions of any individual or media outlet that would attempt to take us down a path of strife and contentiousness."

In her letter, Broome did not mention anything in particular that had happened that prompted her to write it. The letter is addressed to "fellow citizens of Baton Rouge" and was emailed to news organizations in the form of a press release.

The mayor-president's spokeswoman Janene Tate said the letter was not in response to any specific incident or publication. Rather, Tate said, the administration has seen a worrying amount of division — particularly racist and bigoted statements — on social media and in the comments sections of various news organizations, and she wanted to respond.

"It was something that needs to be said. ... That's not the Baton Rouge that we see," Tate said.

In her letter, Broome urged the respectful use of free speech.

"My goal as mayor-president is to unite people around our collective goals of progress and equity," Broome wrote. "While freedom of speech is one of the pillars that makes this country so beautiful, irresponsibility of such can be used as a tool to separate us as community."

Broome also vowed to help the community ensure quality education wherever they live, to properly train and equip police and to prepare for natural disasters, though her letter made no mention of specific policies.

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