New Bedford City Council Candidate Called Out for ‘Transphobic’ Posts
NEW BEDFORD — A local advocacy organization is calling out New Bedford Ward 3 City Council candidate Shawn Oliver for social media posts the group characterized as "transphobic" and "misogynistic."
In a Feb. 23 release from the Coalition for Social Justice, organization representative April Jennison said that some of the memes Oliver has shared to his Facebook page represent "extreme" views against certain groups of people.
"Oliver is not the person that he claims to be," Jennison said.
Oliver is currently running against Carmen Amaral for the Ward 3 City Council seat left vacant by Hugh Dunn, and has portrayed himself as a moderate.
The special election is set to take place on Feb. 28.
Among the memes sent in the release that WBSM News verified were shared by Oliver on Facebook are two that appear to be anti-trans, and one that appears to be against raising the minimum wage.
On Jan. 27, 2020, Oliver shared a meme showing a seemingly cisgender man at a urinal next to someone in a pink skirt suit with the caption, "When you regret voting Democrat."
Prior to that, on May 23, 2019, he posted a photo of a sticker on a vehicle window stating "Teach kids to change gears not genders."
Another post that WBSM was unable to verify — but a screenshot of which was sent by the coalition — showed a timeline of women's crotches ending with a penis and captioned "How women have changed over the years."
The coalition said Oliver has shared several memes to his public page that could be construed as offensive to women, the LGBTQ+ community, and others, including the working class.
A meme posted on Jan. 26, 2020 shows a trucker with the words “If you believe the minimum wage is too low, have you considered acquiring a skill thats worth more than minimum wage?”
According to the coalition, this post seemingly contradicts Oliver's campaign promises to deliver decent wages, such as a Jan. 5 post supporting city paraprofessionals' bid for higher pay.
"Rather than acknowledge that not everyone can work at decent paying jobs for a variety of reasons, including lack of access to education, Oliver would rather go on social media and shame people for their circumstances," Jennison stated.
Oliver has not denied posting the memes, and has not publicly said whether he still supports their messages.
"I'm flattered that with a few days left in the election we're close enough in this race that my opponent's supporters are running desperate and throwing everything but the kitchen sink at me in an effort to distract voters from the real issues people in Ward 3 are facing," he wrote in a statement to WBSM.
"We must be doing something right!"
Oliver did not respond to a question about specific allegations of transphobia and misogyny.
While the posts were still up in the morning on Feb. 24, all of them have since been removed from Oliver's Facebook page.
His opponent Amaral has said she condemns the use of "bigoted memes."
"Oliver’s public social media posts are disrespectful, hurtful, perpetuate harmful stereotypes, and promote intolerance and division," Amaral said.
"Elected officials have a responsibility to promote respect, tolerance, and understanding in their language and actions," she added.
"As always, I will continue to condemn bigoted speech, advocate for vulnerable groups, and promote a culture of inclusivity, respect, and empathy to build an even better New Bedford for all."