MUNCIE, Ind. — A former Muncie City Council member used the public comment section of last Tuesday’s meeting to discuss a case of cyber bullying aimed at her by a city department head.
Denise Moore, a council member until resigning in September because of a conflict between two of her elected positions, said city human resources director Sarah Beach posted photos on social media critical of Moore’s appearance. Moore explained that while leaving a city council forum at Northside Middle School on Oct. 17, Beach took photos of her and posted them with the wording, “I need better foundation garments.”
The post, initially on Beach’s personal Facebook page, has since been removed. The Star Press observed them before they were removed.
“At the age of 63 I never imagined it would happen to me,” Moore told the council. She said she was speaking out to show others that have been bullied online that they are not alone.
Screenshots showed dozens of photos taken and posted by Beach during the event that had captions underneath them. While two focused on Moore, others took digs at city council members Nora Powell and Linda Gregory as well.
Moore’s were the only posts that focused specifically on her looks.
“I was shocked, humiliated, embarrassed and mad all at the same time,” Moore said. She went on to say that it was an example that shouldn’t have been set by a city official.
On Tuesday, Beach gave her defense of the post to The Star Press.
“My post was meant as political satire related to Ms. Moore needing better ‘foundation garments’ as it relates to her lack of backbone with the local party otherwise known as ‘214’,” Beach said via email. “While I am a proud Democrat, I am also a vocal critic of the local democrat party which includes Ms. Moore, Ms. Powell and Ms. Gregory. I did not turn in my first amendments rights as an American citizen when I took the position with this administration.”
Council member Gregory said she was furious about the allegations when she learned of them last week, noting that she isn’t on social media to have seen them personally. The conduct by a department head was so egregious in her opinion, she sent a letter to Mayor Dennis Tyler asking that Beach be fired.
“Sara Beach’s Facebook post after the October Candidates’ Forum was reprehensible and for her behavior, she should be fired immediately,” Gregory wrote in an email to the mayor. “The early part of last night’s meeting was all about public servants and government officials being accountable for our actions. When will that be the case for Ms. Beach?”
Beach said in her response Tuesday that Moore is a public figure and is subject “to the praise and criticism that goes along with that.”
Other members of the city council were also included on the email from Gregory to Tyler.
During last week’s meeting when lodging the public complaint, Moore focused not on Beach, but on what examples in speech need to be set going forward. She was hoping that council and other officials would help affect that change.
“Let’s reintroduce the ability to have a healthy debate and disagreements,” Moore said. “Let’s fight for a more decent citizenry.”
The audience gave Moore a standing ovation after speaking. She was also stopped by several community members and council members after the meeting to apologize for her experience.
“Things have been posted or said online that I don’t believe would have been said face to face in person,” Moore said. “We need to set better examples.”
Corey Ohlenkamp is the city/county government reporter. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 765-213-5874. Follow him on Twitter at @Ohlenkamp.
This article originally appeared on Muncie Star Press: City official accused of cyber bullying former council member
Published at Tue, 19 Nov 2019 12:11:10 +0000