An Indian-American candidate running for a town council seat in North Carolina state was shocked to find her face “scratched off” and replaced with a Black person’s photo in one of her campaign signs, a media report said.
Sarika Bansal, who, if elected, would be the first Indian-American and second woman of color to serve on the Cary Town council, was attending a meeting when a friend texted her about the sign, The Herald-Sun daily reported on Friday.
Bansal said the sign was found in the Highcroft Village neighbourhood in west Cary in District D — the place from where she is running for a council seat.
She told the daily that her head on the sign was scratched off and a photo of a Black person was superimposed over her face.
“This was shocking. .. Even after the meeting, I usually walk down and talk to the council members but I couldn’t because I was so shocked. I came home, I had my dinner, and my phone started going crazy because it was all over social media,” Bansal told The Herald-Sun.
Bansal said she did not know if any other signs had been vandalised, and said that she is “truly saddened by the act of vandalism and racism against my campaign”.
“We must embrace diversity as a means of building strength and unity in our town. There is no place for bigotry and racism against people of colour, brown or black in the Town of Cary,” Bansal said in a statement released on Friday.
She called on her fellow candidates and elected officials to reject this behaviour and commit themselves to working for a Cary that accepts people of all backgrounds and colour.
Issuing a statement on behalf of the Town of Cary, Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said that they would get the matter investigated.
“This racist, despicable act stands in stark opposition to the values we hold dear in Cary and will only serve to bring our community closer. We will do everything we can to get to the bottom of this,” Weinbrecht said.
In North Carolina, it is a class 3 misdemeanor for a person to steal, deface, vandalise or remove a political sign that is lawfully placed. It is punishable by up to 30 days in jail, $500 in fines, and up to a year of probation.
Cary is home to over 180,000 residents, and Asian Americans make up 20 per cent of the population.
An accomplished information security professional and small business owner, Bansal is an advocate for women’s rights, common sense gun reform and better mental health resources throughout the community.
After moving to Cary in 2015 to pursue a career opportunity in the field of cybersecurity, Bansal, along with her husband, started a jewellery business.
Cary’s municipal election is on October 10, weeks before the November presidential elections.
Along with Bansal, current councilman Ryan Eades and newcomer Rachel Jordan will face off for District D.