Mayor denounces vandalism of her home: ‘This is not the Lawrence that I know and love’

photo by: City of Lawrence

Mayor Jennifer Ananda makes a public statement during the City Commission's meeting Jan. 21, 2020, regarding vandalism of her home.

Lawrence’s mayor made an emotional public statement following the politically motivated vandalism of her home last week.

At the opening of the Lawrence City Commission’s meeting Tuesday, Mayor Jennifer Ananda read both a personal and a city statement related to the incident. In the city statement, Ananda said that though she understands and applauds conscious and heartfelt activism, the vandal’s violent actions were unproductive and harmful.

“When someone sows fear through a physical threat, there is a cost to our civility and ultimately our humanity,” Ananda said. “This is not the Lawrence that I know and love.”

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The vandalism occurred during the commission’s meeting last week, in the midst of an at times tense discussion about the treatment of homeless people and funding for the local shelter. Ananda said Tuesday that during that discussion, someone threw a brick through a window of her house that contained a message related to the homeless issue.

In her personal statement, Ananda, with her voice sometimes cracking with emotion, described how the vandalism had affected her and her family. Ananda, who has two sons, said her children were home when the brick came through the window. She said one of her sons is now afraid to be in a room alone and that she’s had trouble eating and sleeping since the incident.

“A brick was not thrown at an institution, but (at) a struggling single mother who wants to do good in this world,” Ananda said.

Ananda also said she did not know who the vandal was, but that she wanted to send that person a message. She said in part that she understood why the person was angry, but refused to “meet rage with rage” or demonize the person. Instead, Ananda invited the person to participate in restorative justice with her and talk about the issue of homelessness.

“I hate that the focus has not been on the real issues our city government is tasked with addressing, but rather has been on your actions and the impact those actions had and continue to have on me and my family and our community,” Ananda said. “So I’m going to invite you to be part of something truly radical. I want us to be an example not of how to be a victim and perpetrator, but how to be leaders in this world today.”

The topics at last week’s meeting included the provision of additional funding to the Lawrence Community Shelter, which has been struggling financially recently and has had to reduce its capacity. The shelter was invited by the commission to make the supplementary funding request, and ultimately the commission voted unanimously to provide the shelter an additional $31,000 this year.

Ananda received applause after she read her statements Tuesday, with many city staff members and members of the public giving her a standing ovation.

City Commission Meeting 01/21/20


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