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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward addresses city hall vandalism in press conference

Ward’s office window was broken Tuesday night

<p>Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward shows some of the damage done to city hall in a press conference on Wednesday, March 27, 2024.</p>

Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward shows some of the damage done to city hall in a press conference on Wednesday, March 27, 2024.

In a last-minute Wednesday press conference, Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward addressed the recent vandalism at Gainesville City Hall and the Old Library Building, where Gainesville’s equity and inclusion office is located.

Both vandalism events occurred in broken windows or doors, and were accompanied by a note including threatening and racist language, but the content of the notes has not been shared. 

The Gainesville Police Department is investigating the recent events, but have not released information on suspects or leads. Ward is confident the investigation will be successful, he said during the conference. 

Ward’s office window was broken Tuesday night by two projectiles, spraying glass across Ward’s office and leaving two large holes in the window. The broken window was discovered Wednesday morning by custodians, who alerted GPD. One of the projectionals had a note attached to it, addressed to “Mr. Ward.” It expressed anger towards the city’s commitment to equity and inclusion, Ward said. 

“City management will continue to pursue that work. City Commission will continue to pursue that work. I will continue to pursue that work,” Ward said. “If anybody thinks that chucking rock through my window is gonna make me less inclined to work on DEI initiatives, and to be helpful and supportive of our entire community, they're sadly mistaken.” 

Ward’s office window has since been boarded up, and new glass is on the way, he said. City Hall has been working to input new security measures for “a little while,” but those measures have been fast-tracked since Tuesday’s incident. Ward wants employees and residents alike to feel safe visiting and working in the city buildings, he said. 

Earlier this month, the front door of the Old Library was broken by projectiles with a similar note attached, this one addressed towards the broader city. City leadership and GPD cannot determine right now if the two incidents were carried out by the same assailant, but the language in the two notes was very similar, Ward said. 

A third incident at the Old Library may also be connected to the other two events, but GPD hasn’t determined if it’s related. A rock was thrown at a window of the Old Library, but it didn’t break the window, Ward said.

As for city leadership, the vandalism incidents have reinforced Ward’s diligence to expand DEI for Gainesville residents and UF students, he said. 

“I do not find this chilling effect, I find this an igniting effect,” Ward said. “It has the exact opposite reaction that I think whoever's responsible probably wanted.”

Contact Ella Thompson at ethompson@alligator.org. Follow her on X @elladeethompson.

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Ella Thompson

Ella Thompson is a third-year journalism major and the Spring 2024 Metro Editor. In her free time, she likes to go to the beach or read a good book. 


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