ROHNERT PARK (CBS SF) — The Sonoma County branch of the NAACP condemned the racist harassment of Rohnert Park Vice Mayor Jackie Elward after she supported a ban on fireworks in the city.

Elward, the first Black and immigrant elected official in the history of Rohnert Park, said an anonymous man called her racist epiphets and told her to “go back to Africa” last Tuesday.

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“You are free to call me and be angry with me. I have thick skin and can take it. However, as happened earlier today, I will not tolerate being told to go back to Africa along with being called the N word. This is totally unacceptable,” Elward wrote on Facebook. “Rohnert Park, we can do better.”

The NAACP followed up Friday by calling on the city to approve a statement of condemnation on the remarks made against her.

“There is a long standing problem in Sonoma County with anti-Blackness, and a specific disrespect for Black women, that is rooted in misogyny. This unit has noted repeated attacks on Black officials, county department heads, employees, teachers, school board trustees, community leaders and organizers,” the NAACP wrote. ”This is unacceptable and
must stop immediately.”

Elward’s harassment came after she joined a 3-2 vote on the Rohnert Park City Council to ban the sale and personal use of fireworks the week before. She has not relayed any other incidents since the call.

Read the Sonoma County NAACP’s state below:

Statement of Condemnation of Racial Discrimination and Harassment of Rohnert Park Vice Mayor Jackie Elward

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On March 16th, Rohnert Park Vice Mayor Jackie Elward was the victim of a vicious attack from a constituent in which racial slurs were used and she was told to “go back to Africa.”

This cowardly act was apparently due to anger over her support of a proposed ban on fireworks in Rohnert Park. While Ms. Elward was not the only city council member to support the ban, she was singled out for a despicable and ignorant violation of her civil rights, because she is a Black woman.

Vice Mayor Elward has broken barriers as the first Black and immigrant and female elected official in the history of Rohnert Park. She also brings a deep commitment to the community and a willingness to work with all Rohnert Park residents and her fellow city councilmembers. This incident is unacceptable.

There is a long standing problem in Sonoma County with anti-Blackness, and a specific disrespect for Black women, that is rooted in misogyny. This unit has noted repeated attacks on Black officials, county department heads, employees, teachers, school board trustees, community leaders and organizers. This is unacceptable and
must stop immediately.

In a county that aims to engage in equity work, a baseline of anti-racism must be
established. We will not stand by while members of our community are attacked.

We urge the city of Rohnert Park to issue a statement of condemnation and to take appropriate steps to ensure Vice Mayor Elward’s protection and safety. While constituents are free to express their opinions of the actions of elected officials, and may express disapproval or even anger when they do not agree with legislation, use of racial slurs and personal attacks will not be tolerated. We ask that all cities and the county issue anti-discrimination and harassment statements, take a clear stand on not allowing this behavior, and ensure a healthy and respectful work environment for BIPOC, QTBIPOC and all persons of protected classes. Diversity without respect and support is tokenism and causes harm to the courageous individuals who are breaking barriers in Sonoma County.

Vice Mayor Jackie Elward, Sonoma County Black organizations stand with you and we thank you for your service.

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To the city of Rohnert Park.
Signed,
Santa Rosa – Sonoma County NAACP Unit 1074B
Sonoma County Black Forum
Sonoma County Black Coalition
Petaluma Blacks for Community Development