Mayor Makes 'Uncalled For' Comment Against 'Troll'

Omaha's Jean Stothert accused Korean American of hiding 'behind symbols'—i.e., Korean alphabet
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2020 11:31 AM CDT
Mayor Says Sorry for Calling Online Commenter a 'Troll'
Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert smiles at her election night party after defeating Democratic mayoral candidate Heath Mello in Omaha, Neb., on May 9, 2017.   (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

A Nebraska mayor who insisted she wouldn't apologize for an online comment has offered her mea culpa after all. NBC News reports the trouble started when Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert earlier this week put in place a city curfew due to protests over the death of George Floyd. Soyeon Sohn, a Korean American woman who was adopted as an infant and raised in Hastings, posted an apparently negative comment on Stothert's official Facebook page—one that Stothert didn't like. Her reply to Sohn: "A Facebook troll who hides behind symbols and doesn't list their name, is a coward." The "symbols" Stothert spoke of were letters of the Korean alphabet, spelling out Sohn's name. "A public official making that statement publicly on her own Facebook page degrading a citizen [is] just uncalled for and unprofessional," says Sohn.

WOWT reports Stothert got lots of flak for her comment, and the post was soon taken down. The mayor's office issued a statement noting that "hundreds of comments on the post devolved into name calling, harassing, and threatening" and violated the page's terms of use. A Stothert rep initially said the mayor wouldn't resign or apologize, as Sohn was painted by Stothert's legal team as a "troll" who often shows up on the mayor's page to stir things up. Still, on Wednesday, Stothert did indeed apologize at the end of a presser on the curfew, as well as pen an apology letter that was posted on the Korean Association of Nebraska's Facebook page. "It was not my intent to question her background or heritage," Stothert says in her note. "I apologize to Ms. Sohn and all who were offended." The mayor, Sohn, and the head of the association planned to meet. (Read more Nebraska stories.)

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