Perhaps Twitter should come up with a warning for politicians and public officials: Tweet at Your Own Risk. The Vice President of the East Greenwich Town Council discovered that risk over the weekend, when he tweeted a joke about the Womens' Marches taking place around the country.
Republican Sean Todd's tweet said, "Definitely a guy came up with the idea for the #womensmarch perfect way to get the wives outta the house."
It turns out many found Todd's joke demeaning to women and many turned out on Monday night to protest at the East Greenwich Town Council meeting. Well over 200 people showed up, and that necessitated moving the meeting from East Greenwich Town Hall to the nearby, larger Swift Gym. Even that venue was overloaded, said one of the protest organizers, Hilary Levey Friedman:
"They were clicking (attendees)," according to Friedman, "and they said the capacity was 243 I believe, and when they got to 250 they would have to not allow more people in. And people were not allowed in."
Councilman Todd had already deleted his tweet, and posted an apology, which he also delivered to the crowd Monday night. "I'm deeply sorry for the tweet over the weekend," he said. " Though it was meant as a joke, it was in poor taste, and it understandably ended up offending many of the people that I'm so honored to represent. Saturday's march was the perfect example of the peaceful expression that is a hallmark of our democracy, and I support all of you who marched on Saturday for women's rights."
Friedman, chair of the Democratic Town Committee, says public comment began after Todd's apology, with the first speaker defending Todd, saying, "Apology accepted. Let's move on."
Friedman says the rest of the approximately 15 speakers were more critical. “One speaker said 'I hope Mr. Todd donates to a women’s cause or does some volunteering at a women’s cause.' Other people made much more bold statements, like 'he should be forced to resign', or 'he should resign'.”
Friedman says the whole experience was "inspiring, because truly it was a scene of democracy in action...a natural growth opportunity for that to happen, and we'll have to find ways to keep those people engaged."