It’s no secret that politics have been a contentious battleground over the last several years in the city of Antioch. The city has moved in a direction where leadership is more focused on being right while losing sight of doing what is right. This has especially weighed heavily on my mind the past few months and it came to a head Friday as we are in the home stretch of the Antioch recalls.
On Friday, the harassment and bullying going on went too far. It is impossible to ignore, and something must be done after one of the mayor’s very vocal supporters crossed a line.
This person appeared at a signing table with a bullhorn and a video recorder, something that has happened many times now during this recall. This person was aggressively insulting the people gathering signatures, recording them without their permission, and harassing customers at the store. Truthfully, we have been subjected to this before. However, are all adults and can handle it.
Sadly, however, this supporter of the mayor took it to a whole other level when they began harassing a minor. This is a minor that is employed by the location the event was being held. The minor was recorded without consent, was called a bully, a racist, and the aggressor refused to stop even when the minor revealed the fact that they are underage. The harassment was so out of line that customers, unrelated to the recall attempt, called the Antioch Police Department to assist the minor.
I cannot fathom the fear and embarrassment this young person felt. To have an adult abuse them in such a way is unconscionable. In a time when the mental health of our youth is at a catastrophic level, we cannot put them into situations that might damage the very fabric of their relatively limited worlds and put them into a crisis in which some may not be able to recover.
The fear of being labeled a racist has driven teens to take drastic, and permanent, actions before. They felt their whole lives were ruined when such allegations went public. For a grown woman to treat a youth in our city in this manor cannot and should not be ignored.
This is a woman whom the mayor has supported with his clapping and his smiles. He has allowed the false rhetoric to be perpetrated to save himself from recall, and now his supporters are using our youth as well. Bullying is never acceptable. We need better from our elected officials and their supporters if we are ever going to come together as a city
I am not so naïve to not understand politics can and do divide a community and get the best of people. But I hope that the vast majority would look beyond the surface and ignore the false rhetoric.
For example, it came as no surprise that the proponents were labeled racist and that many individuals ignored the fact that nearly half of the original 20 proponents are minorities. However, I was wholly unprepared for the level of hate and vitriol I both witnessed and received during this process.
Because I became involved in these efforts to better the community in which I live, I was immediacy labeled a racist, called a bully, and was harassed on more than one occasion. Admittedly, I somewhat expected this to happen because I knew I was making a bold choice that some do not understand, and many are unwilling to learn the motives behind.
What I was unprepared for was the hate that I saw spewed at others, hate from the mayor and his supporters. I saw an African American woman called a racial slur, another told she was not black enough, and yet another told she was “acting white.” An Afro-Latina neighbor was told she was not a real person of color, a Mexican American man was told he needs to learn to think for himself. I’ve been publicly called a Karen, , a Clans Member, a bully, by both the mayor and his supporters.
The mayor has even tried to intimidate me, both with his own actions and the actions he has condoned. At a recent city council meeting all the proponents were called the Ku Klux Karen’s, a comment in which the mayor applauded.
I do not write these things to garner support or sympathy. I’m a grown woman that put myself into the line of fire for supporting the recall of our mayor and city clerk and have thus far dealt with these attacks quietly. But it crossed a line Friday. Verbally attacking a youth should be rejected by everyone whether you support or disagree with a recall.
I had no intention of ever speaking of these events publicly over the past year because that is not the type of petty politics in which I want to involve myself, but I ask the public to please leave the children out of it and to tone down the false rhetoric and name calling.