Boise Council Member Lisa Sanchez is used to getting feedback from her constituents in a variety of ways, but on Aug. 27, she received a message over social media that was a invective-laden, violent rant.
“You are absolute fucking trash,” the harasser wrote. “I can’t wait until you get recalled you worthless scum of the earth trash. Kill yourself. Better yet I hope someone fucking caps your ass for you. Thanks for ruining Boise worthless trash of a human.”
The message, which Sanchez posted on her own social media accounts on Aug. 28, also made negative references to Sanchez’s body. In a time when people are fighting over the appropriate ways to protest and make their voices heard, a message like that raised her eyebrows, but she told Boise Weekly it's nothing new.
“These types of things are dealt with by people in marginalized communities daily,” said Sanchez.
Sanchez said she released the message in hopes that other city council members and the general public can witness the type of violent and threatening messages she has received as a person of color sitting on the council.
Over the summer, the personal has become the turf of the political, with demonstrators appearing at the homes of public figures, including Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean and a police officer involved in the arrest of a person violating public health rules in Meridian. On Aug. 16, Black Lives Matter demonstrators protested outside Boise Council President Elaine Clegg’s house, reigniting a conversation about civil discourse.
Speaking of the other city council members who were upset about people protesting at their homes, Sanchez said she understands their fears, but as a woman of color, she said she knows what it's like to feel unheard.
“For me, this type of experience predates being on the council. And often, when people share it, it’s often not believed. People don’t want to believe people can be this hateful our community,” Sanchez said.
She contacted the Boise Police Department and was told the message wasn’t enough of a threat to warrant an investigation. Sanchez said she’s glad she shared the hateful message to show that regardless of whether it constitutes a threat in a legal sense, it still causes harm and points to characteristics like empathy and compassion that she believes can help people relate to one another, creating solutions.
Sanchez also stressed that these incidents can have a silver lining, prompting the city council to be more responsive to the community, and that comes from them sharing their experiences and supporting one another.
In regards to people protesting at homes, she said the goal is to move beyond the incivility and the harm and really examine what these folks want and listen, to "extend grace to one another."
“I would point to a Toni Morrison quote that says the purpose of racism is distraction,” said Sanchez. “My job is not to be distracted by racism or elitism and to focus on the work that makes Boise a better place to live for all people.”