Sheepshead Bay Democratic Leader Resigns After Weeks of Pressure Over Racist Tweets

Sheepshead Bay Democratic Leader Resigns After Weeks of Pressure Over Racist Tweets
District Leader Lori Maslow at a virtual Brooklyn Democratic Party event in December.

Southern Brooklyn Democrat Lori Maslow resigned from her District Leader position in the Brooklyn Democratic Party on Thursday, after weeks of intense criticism over a series of racist tweets threatened to derail the party’s election forum.

Maslow, whose 41st Assembly District includes parts of Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park and Flatlands, announced her resignation in a letter sent to county party leadership on Thursday evening. In the letter, which was shared by the party’s official Twitter account, Maslow accused her critics of “online harassment and vilification” as they pushed to hold her accountable for anti-Chinese and anti-Palestinian statements.

“I have received threatening messages,” Maslow wrote. “My family is very concerned for my safety. Extremism in this country is not limited to right wing Trump militias. Threats are nothing to ignore. That is why I will be stepping down effective immediately.”

Calls for Maslow’s resignation began in early January, after she tweeted a reaction to a New York Times article about Chinese trade policy on January 2nd that included the line “I can’t even look at Chinese food.”

That post prompted Twitter users to dig through Maslow’s older tweets, where they unearthed several insults addressed to Palestinian-American congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, as well as post that used a biblical reference to seemingly suggest Palestinians would be wiped “off the face of the earth.”

As criticism from reform-minded District Leaders and party activists grew, Maslow apologized for the tweet about China, and stepped down from her largely ceremonial position as the party’s sixth vice chair. But she refused to resign from her more influential District Leader post, an unpaid elected position that allows her to sit on the party’s 42-member executive committee.

In January 25th open letter to party chair Rodneyse Bichotte, hundreds of party members then called on candidates for mayor, comptroller, and borough president to boycott the party’s upcoming candidate forum, which is planned for this Sunday and will be hosted by NY1 anchor Errol Louis.

Several top-tier candidates complied, including Scott Stringer, Maya Wiley, Andrew Yang, Dianne Morales, Brad Lander, Jo Anne Simon and Antonio Reynoso.

In her resignation letter, Maslow remained largely defiant, saying her tweet about China had been “misconstrued as offensive” and was intended to voice support for a beleaguered Chinese journalist. And while she admitted she had used “harsh language” in her tweets about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she said “leveling an accusation of Islamophobia is as dangerous as it is incorrect.”

“I very much do embrace the Muslim community, not just abroad but here at home where the ‘melting pot’ culture is exactly what makes Brooklyn so special,” Maslow wrote. “But I will always condemn those who oppose the State of Israel.

She also accused her critics of “attempting to use my words as ammunition to boycott and derail a forum led, moderated, and attended by a very diverse group.”

On Twitter, several district leaders and political clubs opposed to Maslow celebrated her resignation.

“We are relieved to see District Leader Lori Maslow made the right decision to resign,” wrote Samy Nemir-Olivares, a District Leader from Bushwick. “We wish her letter addressed direct harm inflicted to Chinese & Palestinian American communities. We thank all who expressed their voices & candidates who stood in solidarity.”

At least one mayoral candidate, Andrew Yang, announced he will re-join the party’s election forum.

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