Last August, Thomas Lopez-Pierre, a Democratic candidate for a City Council seat in the 7th Council District, was criticized widely for making inflammatory, anti-Semitic remarks, sending out campaign material aimed at “greedy Jewish landlords” and describing his opponent as the “only Jewish candidate in the race.”
A number of elected officials wrote him to demand an apology, asserting that “such rhetoric has no place in our society, and certainly does not belong in a political campaign.” The letter described Lopez-Pierre’s language as anti-Semitic and called on him to “cease this deplorable behavior at once.”
Instead, Lopez-Pierre, who hopes to unseat Mark Levine on the City Council in the September elections, has stepped up his biased attack. In his written and video campaign material, he repeatedly refers to “greedy Jewish landlords,” accusing them of “ethnic cleansing” in trying to drive out blacks and Latinos from the Upper West Side, West Harlem and Washington Heights neighborhoods he seeks to represent.
Unfortunately, there have been high-profile cases of observant Jewish slumlords, who should be brought to justice as should any landlord who breaks the law. But as Councilman David Greenfield noted this week in calling for the New York Democratic County Party to remove Lopez-Pierre from its membership, “Blaming Jews for societal ills is the oldest of anti-Semitic propaganda and must not be tolerated anywhere, much less in our diverse city.”
To run a blatantly anti-Semitic campaign — proclaiming that the city campaign finance board will give him “$100,000 to campaign against Greedy Jewish Landlords” — is unconscionable of Lopez-Pierre, especially at a time when hate crimes and anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise.
It’s time for the Democratic Party to disassociate itself from a candidate whose campaign centerpiece is an ugly racial slur.