California Mayor Resigns After Email About Police Brutality Sparks Outrage

Curtis M. Wong

The mayor of Temecula, California, resigned this week after his email response to a constituent’s question about police brutality was blasted as racist.

Mayor James “Stew” Steward announced his resignation Thursday on Facebook, telling his constituents and staff, “You have every right to be hurt and offended.”

“I may not be the best writer and I sometimes misspeak, but I am not racist,” he wrote in the post. “I deeply regret this mistake and I own it, entirely. I am truly sorry.”

The announcement came two days after a Temecula resident emailed Steward requesting information about police violence against Black people in the area.

“I don’t believe there’s ever been a good person of color killed by a police officer,” Steward wrote in his response Tuesday, a screenshot of which was posted to Twitter and other social media platforms. “I have several good friends who are African-Americans, and they love living here because how safe it is for them and their families.” 

Needless to say, the backlash to his remarks was instant.

“This is awful,” one person tweeted. “Hope that the people of Temecula vote for a better candidate the next election.”

“I guess only the ‘bad’ people of color are killed by the police. Whatever!” another person wrote.

Others pointed to Tyisha Miller, a 19-year-old Black woman who was killed by police in 1998 while sitting in her car at a gas station in Riverside, California, about 40 miles north of Temecula.

In a Facebook post before his resignation Thursday, Steward denied making the remark as printed, blaming the wording on his use of voice-to-text technology. 

“I am very well known for my dyslexia so I voice text everything,” he wrote. “Unfortunately I did not take the time to proofread what was recorded. I absolutely did not say that.”

Steward told the Los Angeles Times on Friday that he hoped the controversy didn’t bring further attention to Temecula ahead of a local...

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