East Greenwich Town Councilor Sean Todd has already apologized for a sexist tweet about the women’s marches that took place across the globe this weekend, but he still may hear about it at a regularly scheduled meeting tonight. Feminists from all over Rhode Island – and East Greenwich – plan to attend tonight’s Town Council meeting to let Todd and the community know what they think about his derisive rhetoric about women.
On Saturday, Todd, a Trump-supporting Republican who was reelected to the town council in November, tweeted, “Definitely a guy came up with the idea for the #womensmarch perfect way to get the wives outta the house.”
He quickly deleted the tweet, but not before someone got a screen shot of it.
The blow back was swift. By Saturday night, the East Greenwich Democratic Party sent an email asking residents to attend Monday’s meeting. By Sunday morning, an image of his deleted tweet was being spread around social media by Rhode Island NOW, this journalist, and many others.
“I’m deeply sorry for my tweet yesterday,” he tweeted. “Though it was meant as a joke, it was in poor taste, and understandably ended up offending many of the people that I’m honored to represent. Yesterday’s march was pretty awesome and a perfect example of the peaceful expression that is a … of our democracy. I support all of you who marched and saw a lot of my friends from around the country out there.”
Some time between his offensive tweet and his apology, Todd blocked me on Twitter and Facebook, so I can only share screen shots of his words. It may have already been too late to block the press or apologize.
By Sunday, Todd’s tweet had been read aloud on a bus returning to Rhode Island from the Women’s March in Washington DC. “A woman read his tweet off on a RI bus back from the DC today,” wrote someone on Facebook. “Wrong group to piss off, they are coming to protest.”
In East Greenwich, women were calling for Todd to resign and/or publicly apologize.
“I am writing to urge the immediate resignation/removal of Mr. Sean Todd as a member (and Vice President!) of the East Greenwich Town Council,” wrote Kathrine Sharkey, in a letter sent to the Providence Journal and local East Greenwich media outlets. “This is unacceptable from an official who was elected to represent and serve the men AND women of East Greenwich. How can we be sure the views he revealed here will not impact his decision-making or his treatment of women in the community? How can a strong woman leader, Town Council President, Ms. Sue Cienki, who serves as director of the Rhode Island chapter of the National Foundation of Women Legislators, work effectively with someone who espouses these views of women? Can Mr. Todd be trusted to participate in the hiring and supervision of female town employees when he pictures them “in the house?” Is Mr. Todd the person we want representing the girls and women of East Greenwich?”
In an email to Todd, Daisy Bassen demanded Todd publicly apologize.
“Anything short of a complete apology, in writing and also presented at the next Town Council Meeting, without reference to any excuse for your grave deficits of judgment, is unacceptable,” she wrote. “I was disgusted by your post, which you have since deleted, which mocked the millions of American citizens who exercised our rights to free speech and peaceful assembly in the largest political demonstration in US history, remarkable for its size, its purpose and its civility. I do not accept the trite excuse that your post was intended as a misguided joke; there is no place for any excuse from an elected official who writes what you did.”
Bassen added, “I am well aware that this is not the first time you have chosen to post something critical, offensive or exclusionary on social media; if it is not the last, I will join with my neighbors and fellow Rhode Islanders in demanding your immediate resignation from the Town Council.”
In October, Todd liked a Facebook post by John (Giovanni) Feroce that said, in reference to Trump’s now-infamous comment to Billy Bush about grabbing women by the vagina, “who really cares what guys say about women … Vote for the person who gives us a better future. Who really cares what they say about the other sex in personal conversation.”
This reporter tried to get Todd to comment on why he liked that post for the better part of a week, but Todd would not talk to me.
Todd seems like a nice guy in public (we’ve met on several occasions) but his Facebook posts are often derogatory towards women, minorities and poor people. He often portrays people with less institutional privilege than upper middle class white men as being weak, lazy or subservient.
Said East Greenwich School Committee President Carolyn Mark, a former president of Rhode Island NOW, “I was pleased to see his apology, but this incident should serve as a reminder that, as representatives of our town, what we do and say matters.”
The East Greenwich Town Council meets tonight at 7pm at Town Hall at Swift Gym (121 Peirce St.) to accommodate those who want to attend. Council President Sue Cienki could not immediately be reached for comment.