PROVIDENCE — The Rhode Island Political Cooperative on Thursday night cut ties with state Senate candidate Jennifer Jackson following criticism over her social media posts.
Jackson had been announced as the co-op challenger to Senator Dawn Euer, a Newport Democrat who sponsored the Act on Climate.
But amid scrutiny of Jackson’s Facebook posts, in which she shared anti-vaccine and anti-refugee sentiments, the co-op issued a statement just before 10 p.m. Thursday, saying, “The views in those posts don’t reflect the values of the RI Political Cooperative. We mutually agreed that Jennifer Jackson will no longer be a member of the co-op. We have a process that involves a review of prospective candidates’ social media profiles, but it didn’t surface those posts.”
Screenshots of Jackson’s Facebook page show that on Sept. 3 she shared a post of a woman wearing blue medical scrubs and holding a sign that reads “We worked through the pandemic with no (vaccine). Now they want to fire us! Last year’s heroes. This year’s unemployed.”
Another screenshot shows that on Feb. 21, 2020, Jackson shared a post picturing a homeless man and the message: “Share if you think homeless veterans should be housed before any refugees!”
And a third screenshot shows that on March 23 Jackson wrote, “I don’t give a Rats Ass who this offends, but I stay by it. War is coming, sooner or later! You the Government!! You are all a bunch of cowards! You raised the cost of living so high that both parents are always at work, rather than spending time with their children (single parents stand no chance).”
The post goes on to say, “You took God out of schools. Parents were told ‘No you can’t discipline your kids.’ Well, now most of those kids are rude and out of control. You shall reap what you sow! We have taken a whole generation and turned them into selfish, entitled brats who have no respect for people, property or authority!”
Jackson could not be reached for comment Thursday night, and the posts have been removed from her Facebook page.
Jackson was announced as the Rhode Island Political Cooperative candidate for state Senate District 13. The co-op website described her as a former health care worker and fourth-generation Newport resident who ran for the school committee, served as Thompson Middle School PTO president, and co-founded a group called S.T.R.O.N.G. to “build community and mentor youth in Newport.”
Jackson was one of the 24 state and local candidates the the co-op identified last week when it announced a slate that includes former secretary of state Matt Brown running for governor and state Senator Cynthia Mendes running for lieutenant governor. The co-op aimed to have as many as 50 other candidates, hoping to give voters enough options to replace all of Rhode Island’s government at once next year.
Former state Representative Aaron Regunberg, a Providence Democrat who ran for lieutenant governor, criticized the co-op’s decision to challenge Euer, noting that she was the lead Senate sponsor of the Act on Climate, which makes the state’s goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions mandatory and enforceable.
And on Thursday, Regunberg blasted the co-op over Jackson’s social media posts.
“We simply cannot build the movement necessary to win a livable future for working families in Rhode Island if we allow ‘progressive’ to be defined by a handful of politicians whose priorities are so skewed they believe it furthers our goals to run a candidate who has insulted refugees, dismissed the humanity of people suffering from addiction, and questioned vaccines (and who knows what else) against a longstanding progressive organizer who’s actually been doing the tough work of bringing people together to win real, ambitious change,” Regunberg said.
Georgia Hollister Isman, New England director for the Working Families Party, said Jackson’s social media posts reflect a “right wing attitude” that is at odds with “progressive values.”
“I think it’s a mistake for anyone who thinks of themselves as a progressive to support someone with these kinds of attitudes,” she said. “And we certainly do see these kinds of posts on social media as a red flag.”
Hollister Isman took issue with the post comparing housing for veterans vs. housing for refugees, saying, “That is a classic strategy of the right to pit working class and poor white folks against working class Black and brown folks. If we let that kind of attitude creep into our thinking, we will never be able to achieve real progress for working people.”
Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.