A Democratic candidate for the DuPage County board withdrew from the race after apologizing for a tweet in which she said she laughed repeatedly at a video of a law enforcement officer getting hit in the face with a projectile.
Twenty-year-old Hadiya Afzal attracted national attention and said she was targeted by a “harassment campaign” after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz posted on Twitter that her comment was “Hateful & sick.”
The video shows what appears to be an officer behind a barricade wall at what appears to be a protest throw an object off-screen, and then recoil after getting hit in the face with a projectile.
Afzal, who narrowly won the March primary in District 4, had written, “ive been watching this on repeat for fifteen minutes and laughing every single time.”
Afzal tweeted a statement Sunday night stating, “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.”
On her Facebook campaign page, she added that after the tweet was reposted by Andy Ngo, a conservative online reporter, it launched “a wave of coordinated racist, sexist, and Islamaphobic harassment against me.”
“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. “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.”
In a phone interview Monday, Afzal, who said she is Muslim and wears a hijab, said she has been the target of numerous threats, and that critics have posted the address of relatives, and she was afraid for her safety.
She said she dropped out of the race on the recommendation of the local Democratic Party, and said she did not want to be a “distraction” from the fall election.
In 2018, Afzal won a primary and lost the general election for a county board seat. This year, promoting policies to address climate change, public transit, drug overdoses and criminal justice, she was challenging incumbent Republican Tim Elliott.
Afzal grew up in Glen Ellyn and graduated from Glenbard South High School. District 4 includes Glen Ellyn along with large parts of Wheaton and Carol Stream and portions of several other surrounding towns.
After a destructive house fire in 2012, Afzal wrote on her campaign site, the community rallied to help her family, and she’s since been looking for ways to give back.
She worked previously in legislative offices, and recently graduated from DePaul University. She thanked her supporters for their work, saying her withdrawal was “an all-around disappointment and a shame.”
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