While the Upper Marlboro Mayor said in her official letter that she is resigning to spend more time with family, the racist attacks came to light later.
Tonga Turner had made history as she became the first Black mayor of Upper Marlboro - a town in Maryland - less than two years ago. Turner has announced her resignation, saying she'll be stepping down by the end of June.
According to NBC Washington, Turner said in a public meeting on Monday - to which NAACP was also invited - that she's been a target of anonymous racist bullying and attacks since being in office as Mayor.
Tonga Turner, Mayor of Upper Marlboro, holds press conference to dispel reports she resigned because of racism. She says she was working too much and needs to more time with her two young kids. @wusa9 pic.twitter.com/pkxAafYTt9— Sarah Konsmo (@skonsmo) June 12, 2019
However, Turner's resignation letter insists that she is not stepping down because of the racist attacks. Though her letter does allude to the town's "dark history and past."
Wednesday afternoon, Turner held a press conference to clarify she was not resigning due to the racial incidents she had mentioned in the Monday meeting.
Tonga Turner, who served as Upper Marlboro's mayor and Board of Commissioners president for two years, announced her resignation from both posts in a Monday night letter. https://t.co/HvEDiDkFiQ— ABC 7 News - WJLA (@ABC7News) June 11, 2019
"I am not ending my term as mayor ... due to any racism or bigotry," she said Wednesday. "My decision was made based on wanting to focus more time and attention to my two small children, both of whom are under the age of 10, and my family. Period."
Upper Marlboro Mayor Resigning After Racist Attacks: Report https://t.co/0JbnSP1bKz— NEED TO KNOW (@needtoknow18) June 13, 2019
Residents say it wasn't until she resigned that alarming incidents came to light, which included her tires being slashed and a former town commissioner doodling swastikas during a town meeting. Turner has not explicitly mentioned the racist incidents in her resignation letter.
At the same time, she also maintains that working 90 hours a week between her full-time job and her duties as a mayor has forced her to sacrifice precious time with her kids.
#NOW: Tonga Turner addresses the media for the first time after announcing her resignation. She’s Upper Marlboro’s first African-American mayor and says she’s been the victim of racism, bullying and vandalism since taking office but she also says that’s not why she’s resigning. pic.twitter.com/0jTZKeFB1R— Tracee Wilkins (@TraceeWilkins) June 12, 2019
"It was never my intention to give the public the impression that I am being pushed out or scared into leaving my role," Turner said. "That is simply not true. Anyone that knows me knows that I am a fighter. No one of any color, of any race, of any ethnicity, is ever going to scare me into doing anything.”
NEW: @tonga_turner is the first African American Mayor of Upper Marlboro @TownUMarlboro - after serving for two years, she’s expected to publicly announce her resignation today. Many are asking, “why?”— nicksmithnews™ (@nicksmithnews) June 12, 2019
THE STORY 5PM @fox5dc #Wednesday #FOX5DC #UpperMarlboro #MayorResigns 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/4BTFyBprl4
She said the media coverage of her resignation has been unfair.
"When I was elected last year, there was literally no media coverage outlet about the story of me becoming the first African American mayor in over 300 years," she said. "Not a single media outlet shared that historic moment. And that for one was disheartening to me."
The mayor of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, is resigning.— WAMU 88.5 (@wamu885) June 12, 2019
She reportedly told residents Monday that she was subjected to racist attacks, though they were not the reason she cited for stepping down.https://t.co/n6RxWLpD38
In her resignation letter, Turner cited progress in having secured $800,000 in grants, legislation that advanced economic development and the establishment of "an outreach team that is focused on diversity and inclusion."
"It is no secret that the Town of Upper Marlboro has been plagued with a dark history and past, but my hope is that in the past two years under my leadership, each of you has seen the great promise for our future," Turner's letter said.
I am so disappointed to hear that Upper Marlboro, MD’s Mayor @tonga_turner just resigned over racist threats. And for this to have happened in a city around the nation’s capitol is unbelievable and unacceptable. I’m sorry to hear— JaVonni Brustow 🚨 (@JaVonniBrustow) June 11, 2019
“No one as a whole, as an entire community, knew these things were happening until last night when she just resigned,” resident Monica Wilson said.
“She explained a lot about receiving threatening emails and being called certain words from her constituents,” Upper Marlboro resident Angel Saules said. “Her tires have been slashed, from what I understand. And then kind of like the kicker and I think what made it be a part of the meeting is that someone who attends very regularly had been sketching swastika signs.”
Turner was proposing plans for economic growth and expanding the town's limits. Upper Marlboro is just one mile across and a half mile wide.