Gomez Stirs Pot, Racism Alleged

Alex Gomez. (Photo courtesy of Ed Alvarez)

Alex Gomez. (Photo courtesy of Ed Alvarez)

At about ten minutes before 2 AM on Friday morning, Democratic city council candidate Alex Gomez posted another incendiary tweet and Instagram post; this time directed at Morris Park Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj — the presumed frontrunner in the upcoming Council race.

 

In fewer than 140 characters Gomez accused Gjonaj of using a “racially charged video to promote his candidacy!” in a YouTube video promoting a community survey. He threw down his racism-studded gauntlet asking voters, “Is this who you want in…” In public office being the obvious inference implied by Gomez’s poisonous tweet.

 

Alex Gomez_Gjonaj Tweet-06232017

The video in question — in which Assemblyman Gjonaj appears and narrates — was posted by his campaign to promote a community survey querying residents about the issues of most concern.

YouTube screenshot

YouTube screenshot

At one point Gjonaj lists a set of concerns saying, “I know who is hurt the most by underfunded schools, illegal drugs, crime and violence…” At the  00:58 mark, appears a black-and-white stock image of a woman with a head downcast seated on a bench in the background and a mans downward clenched fist in the foreground. It`s that image that Gomez alleges is a racist stereotype of violent criminal minorities.

 

But does the video use racist imagery?

In an interview, Gomez said that for him the image in the video depicts a minority person and is shown when Gjonaj mentions violence.

 

But a simple Google image search easily found that the stock photo comes from Navarra.com, a news website in Spain. The image was used in an article about domestic violence against women.  The accompanying caption translates in English as: “Threatening fist, the image of a batterer intimidating a victim of gender violence.”

Navarra.com_ARCHIVOO

 

From any objective perspective, the image is not that of a black person or a dark-skinned minority as Gomez alleges. When confronted, Gomez asked if The Bronx Chronicle was shilling for Assemblyman Gjonaj.

 

Mr. Gomez is convinced that the community he seeks to represent is  racist. He believes that racial and ethnic prejudice is prevalent in the district despite the area’s growing Latino and black presence. “No one is trying to engage Latinos and blacks,” charges Gomez, who immigrated from Colombia as a child. 

[CORRECTION: In an earlier version, we incorrectly stated that Mr. Gomez immigrated from “Columbia as a teenager,” instead of “Colombia as a child.” We regret the errors.]

 

The Gjonaj camp quickly responded to a request for comment about the Gomez tweet by dismissing Gomez`s incendiary charge.

 

“Mark Gjonaj is not going to allow his campaign to get dragged into this kind of mud and divisiveness.”

 

“Many of us learned lessons from last year’s election. Most of us learned that we, as Democrats, have to do more and work harder to both improve the lives of working families and help them feel more secure in their jobs and homes. Mark Gjonaj is not going to allow his campaign to get dragged into this kind of mud and divisiveness. He remains focused on spending the next two and a half month’s meeting voters, listening to their concerns, and working to make their lives better,” said Jennifer Blatus, a spokesperson for Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj.

 

“Frankly this video is a non-issue. All Mr. Gomez is doing with his comments is drawing attention away from the real issues here,” said Marjorie Velazquez, a local Democratic district leader and candidate for city council.

 

“You don’t need to stretch the truth when the truth is bad enough.” — Marjorie Velazquez

 

 

 

“The fact is, Mark Gjonaj has spent his career in Albany rolling back protections for women, supporting predatory lenders and targeting vulnerable tenants. Most of all, he and the boys club at the Bronx Democratic Party are denying a voice to women and people of color who make up a growing majority of this community. You don’t need to stretch the truth when the truth is bad enough,” added Velazquez.

Others in the crowded field of contenders in District 13 include, John Doyle, Egidio Sementelli, Muhammad Abuhaikal, Lucia Giraldi, Victor Ortiz and Republican John Cerini. Democrat John Marano dropped out earlier this month.

 

The Democratic primary is September 12. Council District 13 covers Pelham Parkway North & South, Pelham Bay, Country Club, City Island, Throggs Neck, Allerton, & Morris Park.

 

See the complete Gjonaj campaign YouTube video below:

 

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