Mayor Harvey Ward Condemns Office Attack Amidst Controversial Affiliations

Mayor Harvey Ward Condemns Office Attack Amidst Controversial Affiliations
Mayor Harvey Ward as he thanks GPD Officer of the Year Emma Spaulding at the 2023 State of the City Address

Editor's Notes | Updates made for clarification of when Netanyahu made his statements and when Ward sent his letter to Pres. Joe Biden.

Updated Mar 31 | Photo of UF Hillel webpage added.

Mayor Harvey Ward posted a press release on Instagram on Wednesday regarding a rock with an attached note being used to destroy his office window. Ward called the note “lengthy and hate-driven.” 

Mayor Ward did not specify the contents of the note; however, City Commissioner Bryan Eastman took to X (formerly Twitter) to state publicly that the note was “assailing DEI initiatives,” along with containing “threats and racist language.” 

The mayor had a message to members of the Gainesville community, denouncing hate.

“We denounce all forms of discrimination, harassment, and racial violence. We believe—I believe—that all people have the right to live and work without fear and intimidation, and we will protect that right,” stated Ward. 

Despite this, Mayor Ward has publicly voiced his support for individuals who have caused conflict within the Gainesville community.

Last month, Mayor Ward took a picture next to Oct. 7th Nova Festival massacre survivor and Israeli Defense Force (IDF) veteran, Rom El-Hai, as he was in Gainesville speaking about his experiences on Oct. 7th at the University of Florida (UF). 

The former soldier’s presence sparked conflict at UF, causing a large protest due to his host, UF Hillel, advertising that he was a Nova Massacre survivor and not mentioning he was a former IDF soldier. 

Mayor Ward has previously called for humanitarian aid in Palestine and Israel, telling Joe Biden in a letter last November that states the “safe return of all hostages and a cease-fire” are needed. However, in an Instagram story, Mayor Ward is pictured next to El-Hai, with the creator of the post thanking the mayor for his hospitality.

Mayor Ward took the photo roughly 7-8 days after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated a cease-fire would invite “another massacre,” saying that “total victory” is needed.

A Palestinian Gainesville resident, Farrah Maswadeh, called the mayor out at an Alachua County Commissioner meeting last month, additionally calling out the man to Ward's right, Shlomi Kahana, of also being a former IDF soldier. 

“This is Mayor Ward next to two former IDF soldiers, Shlomi Kahana and Rom El-Hai, at a public event hosted by UF Hillel last week. In which UF Hillel withheld information to the general public that Rom El-Hai was an IDF soldier until after his presentation began. While we support free speech, free speech is not protected when it directly correlates to acts of violence or agitates for acts of violence.”

Maswadeh was present primarily to demand a cease-fire resolution from Alachua County Commissioners as a crowd of protesters gathered outside. However, she also took the opportunity to call out the mayor of Gainesville for his pictures with the former soldiers.

Maswadeh said their presence sets a precedent, citing former IDF soldiers allegedly using chemical weapons against University of Columbia students in New York. 

In addition, at the State of the City address, Mayor Ward had previously expressed his support for Gainesville Police Department (GPD) 2023 Officer of the Year, Emma Spaulding. Spaulding was previously under internal investigation for watching and encouraging her colleague to commit sexual assault against three citizens.  


Spaulding received no form of disciplinary action regarding her involvement and was rewarded with Officer of the Year last month at the State of the City address. 

GPD and Mayor Ward did not state specific actions by Spaulding to warrant the title of GPD Officer of the Year, with GPD thanking her for “exceptional contributions.”

Mayor Ward finished his press release telling Gainesville residents to contact GPD if anything “doesn’t seem right,” prevaricating that the city government “will take every step necessary to protect and support every member of our community.”




Jack Walden

Jack Walden

Jack Walden is the creator of Gnvinfo and a 2nd year journalism major at Santa Fe College. From general information, to exposing falsehoods and corruption, Jack seeks to deliver the truth.
Gainesville, FL