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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward’s office window was vandalized March 26 by two projectiles, spraying glass across his office, leaving two large holes in the window and denting a wall. The scene was discovered by custodial staff the morning of March 27.

A note attached to one of the projectiles was addressed to “Mr. Ward,” and expressed anger toward the city’s commitments to equity and inclusion. The note allegedly contained threatening and racist language, according to a city press release

On March 6, the front door of the Old Library, where the city’s equity and inclusion office is located, was broken by projectiles with a similar note attached addressed to the city, said Assistant Police Chief Nelson Moya. 

City leadership and GPD can’t 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 in a March 27 press conference. 

Ward would not disclose specific details about the note during the press conference, but emphasized the city’s diligence to expand DEI for Gainesville residents and UF students, he said. 

“City management will continue to pursue that work,” Ward said. “City Commission will continue to pursue that work. I will continue to pursue that work. If anybody thinks that chucking a rock through my window is going to 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, stronger 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 the March 26 incident. Ward wants employees and residents alike to feel safe visiting and working in the city buildings, he 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.

Ward is confident GPD’s investigation will be successful but was unable to share any details of its investigations at the press conference. 

Other city leaders spoke out about the incident on social media. City Commissioner Bryan Eastman also emphasized the city leadership’s duty to DEI initiatives in a post on X.

“This has no place in our diverse city,” Eastman wrote. “Fear will not slow our commitment to our values.”

Contact Kairi Lowery at Follow her on X @kairiloweryy

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Contact Ella Thompson at Follow her on X @elladeethompson.

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Kairi Lowery

Kairi Lowery is a second-year journalism major and a metro general assignment reporter for The Alligator. When she's not writing you can find her lounging on the beach with a book or collecting vinyls. 

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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