A Democratic candidate for an Illinois county board has withdrawn from the race after backlash over her tweet saying she laughed repeatedly at a video showing a law enforcement officer hit in the face by a projectile, the
Chicago Tribune reported.
What are the details?
Hadiya Afzal, 20 — who won the March primary for the DuPage County board’s District 4 seat — wrote on Twitter, “I’ve been watching this on repeat for fifteen minutes and laughing every single time,” the paper said.
The video in question shows what appears to be an officer at a protest throwing an object off-screen while behind a barricade wall and then recoiling after getting hit in the face by a projectile, the Tribune said.
Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas called Afzal’s tweet “hateful & sick.”
Cruz reacted to a tweet from conservative journalist Andy Ngo who said the video was from the Portland riots, the paper reported. The leftist rioters have been at it nightly for about two months and have been attacking a federal courthouse as well as federal officers using explosive devices and lasers that have left some agents blinded.
What happened next?
The Tribune said that after extensive online criticism, Afzal on Sunday night tweeted: “My post was in poor taste and doesn’t reflect the values I was raised with and hold dear. I do not support or condone violence in any form. I appreciate and support the role that law enforcement plays in keeping our communities safe. I sincerely apologize for the irresponsible tweet.”
But on her Facebook page, Afzal said the attention her tweet generated included “a wave of coordinated racist, sexist, and Islamaphobic harassment against me,” the paper noted.
“I do not condone violence in any form, and indeed have been one of many voices calling for policy changes to our policing problems today,” she wrote, according to the Tribune. “The specific related video showed a federal officer throwing a water bottle at unarmed protesters, unprovoked, and having it returned seconds later. I regret the comment and apologize to any individuals hurt by the remark. I do believe, however, that we must continue to push back against extrajudicial encroachment in municipal matters by the federal government and as a candidate for county board, I only want the safest possible life for every resident in District 4.”
Afzal — who said she is Muslim and wears a hijab — told the paper in a Monday interview that she’s been threatened numerous times, critics have posted the address of relatives, and she was afraid for her safety.
She said she dropped out of the race after a recommendation by the local Democratic Party and didn’t want to be a “distraction” from the November election, the Tribune said, adding that Afzal won a primary and lost the general election for a county board seat in 2018.
What did the local Democratic Party have to say?
Democratic Party of DuPage Chair Cynthia Borbas said in a statement that the party “strongly condemns” Afzal’s original tweet but added in an interview that some criticisms of Afzal “crossed the line” and were Islamaphobic and unacceptable, the paper said.
Democratic precinct committee members will vote in mid-August for a replacement on the ballot, Borbas told the Tribune.
What did the Republican she was to face in the election have to say?
Afzal would have been running against incumbent Republican Tim Elliott for the board seat, the paper said. And while Elliott — a civil litigation attorney — condemned Afzal’s original tweet, he also took issue with many of the comments attacking her, the Tribune noted.
“On all sides, we need to stop this,” Elliott told the paper. “Does everyone want to be judged by the worst or dumbest email they send? It’s destructive, it results in extremism and kills legitimate conversation. It hurts our ability to compromise.”
Here’s an Afzal campaign video when she ran for the board in 2018:
“Taking Charge” – Hadiya For DuPage