I have been around for a long time in the political arena. This Congressional primary election coming up on June 26, held in June instead of September, is one of the most important to be held in many a year. Regrettably, because of the new primary date and people leaving for summer vacations, the voter turnout is expected to be low. In such situations, there is always the danger that an unqualified, or worse still, a dangerous demagogic candidate will under the radar achieve a surprising victory.
I am writing to alert the public of such a possibility in one congressional race in Brooklyn. The New York Times and other media outlets are doing the same. In the 8th congressional district in Brooklyn, there are two candidates running. The first is Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who I know and is perceived by many who know him to be an outstanding young man with a brilliant future. With his intelligence and personality, Jeffries would surely be a leader in the Congress. He is someone who would make us all very proud.
His opponent, City Councilman Charles Barron, who I also know, has a history of statements that show him to be a venomous hater of both white people and the state of Israel.
The New York Times on June 16th reported on a host of Barron’s comments through the years, and on his announcement for Congress they wrote, “Considered an afterthought when he announced his candidacy for the United States Congress last November — in a speech in which he called Muammar el-Qaddafi ‘my hero’ and pledged to never salute the American flag — Democratic leaders are now fretfully talking about a prospect they once considered unthinkable: a Congressman Barron.”
Another Times article went on to chronicle Mr. Barron’s views:
“June 2002: Mr. Barron sponsored a Council resolution calling for clemency for several ‘political prisoners,’ including Anthony Bottom, now known as Jalil Abdul Muntaqim, who was convicted in 1971 of killing two police offers in Harlem. His bill provoked a raucous argument in the Council and prompted the mayor to write a letter opposing the release…
"August 2002: At a speech in Washington calling on the federal government to pay slavery reparations, Mr. Barron declared: ‘I want to go up to the closest white person and say, ‘You can’t understand this, it’s a black thing,’ and then slap him just for my mental health.”
The Times article continued:
“September 2002: Mr. Barron invited Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, to visit City Hall. Calling the occasion ‘a festive event,’ Mr. Barron clasped hands with Mr. Mugabe as the men ascended the building’s steps. Later, Mr. Mugabe, accused by Amnesty International of crimes against his citizens, delivered a speech inside the Council chamber, which was largely empty because many lawmakers chose to boycott the appearance. Mr. Mugabe is ‘a dynamic, bold African man willing to stand up to the world for his people,’ Mr. Barron said at the time.
"June 2007: A top aide to Mr. Barron, Viola Plummer, was fired by the Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, after Ms. Plummer used the word ‘assassination’ in criticizing another member of the Council. Mr. Barron insisted that his aide remain on staff, paid her salary with his own funds, and accused Ms. Quinn of improperly overreaching. ‘I’m thinking of making a citizen’s arrest,’ he said, referring to Ms. Quinn.
"November 2011: At a speech in Brooklyn declaring his candidacy for Congress, Mr. Barron said, ‘Robert Mugabe is my hero, and guess what, so is Muammar Qaddafi!’ If elected, he promised, he would retain his views in Washington. ‘I’ll sit and meet with everybody,’ he said, ‘go to everybody’s office, and I don’t care what they say, I’m still not saluting the flag.’ Mr. Barron also offered an unapologetic acknowledgment for his foreign policy views. “They told me, when I get up here, ‘Don’t say nothing about foreign policy, Charles, because they going to use that one against you,’ he said, before adding: ‘Use it!’”
Barron does not deny making these charges, other racist comments against whites and his hostility to Israel. In fact, the Times reported, “In an interview, Mr. Barron would not comment on past statements, calling them ‘a distraction’ from the issues, raised by people who are frightened by his campaign’s ‘building momentum.’”
I urge the voters of the 8th C.D. - black, white, Hispanic and Asian - to show this racist Charles Barron that our city will not tolerate his efforts to divide us, and support the rise of a political star who will quickly be recognized for what he is - one of our brightest, one of our bravest, a son of New York - Hakeem Jeffries.
The Times editorial endorsement of Hakeem Jeffries on June 16th sums it up: “Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries is a solid legislator and the chief sponsor of a law that requires the New York Police Department to discard data about anyone who has been stopped and frisked but not charged with a crime. He has worked to bring in more affordable housing and strengthened protections for tenants. City Councilman Charles Barron is an embarrassing ideologue, who rants against Israel and invited Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwe dictator, to City Hall. We endorse Hakeem Jeffries.”
So should all people who are interested in helping their community, their borough and their city. Vote for Hakeem Jeffries next Tuesday.