Dawn Addis, Morro Bay City Council member and co-founder of Women's March SLO, said she has been the target of sexism and harassment from a local resident.
In a statement during a Feb. 13 council meeting, Addis said she started receiving aggressive and hateful emails the morning of her second City Council meeting.
- Photo Courtesy Of Dawn Addis
- SPEAKING OUT Dawn Addis is asking for the community to stand with her against harassment and hate speech.
"You have got to be one of the most vile, despicable, corrupt, morally bankrupt, hypocritical cunts I have ever had the displeasure of seeing," the email, which New Times obtained, stated.
There were two photos accompanying the email message: a photo of Addis and one of the Nazi flag.
Rock Catlett, acting commander for the Morro Bay Police Department, said the department has identified the resident as Mark Hanson. The harassing communication was enough for the department to submit a report to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office—which is currently reviewing the report—Catlett said.
Eric Dobroth, the county's assistant district attorney, said while he was unable to speak to the specifics of this case, he can speak generally about this type of situation.
Dobroth said it's really a balance between an individual's First Amendment right and freedom of expression versus somebody's rights to be free from threats of physical harm. He said people have the right to say that they don't like someone because of their gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
"At the end of the day, the more personal the attacks get, the more they either overtly or covertly convey a threat of physical safety. That's when you're going to start potentially running afoul of the criminal statute," he said.
Addis told New Times that she received criticism during her campaign for City Council and after being elected. She expects people not to agree with every decision or point of view she has, she said.
"That's part of why we're in a democracy, we have an open form of government where the general public gets to have a say, but this was completely different," she said. "It went into extremely disparaging vulgar language that has very little to do with the democratic process."
Addis said it felt like a clear attempt to intimidate her, as a woman. After notifying a colleague and the authorities, Addis said she received more emails calling her a coward for not responding to Hanson directly.
"So, you would like me to stop the personal attacks against you. Well I would like you to [change your position on a city policy] ... if you agree to do this, I will agree to stop any personal attacks. ... You need to grow a pair and put on your big girl pants," Addis said a second email from Hanson stated.
At the Feb. 13 council meeting, Councilmember Marlys McPherson said she had received sexist harassing emails from Hanson as well, and Mayor John Headding said he had received aggressive emails from Hanson that weren't gender specific. Δ