India Walton Credit: Contributed

Long Islanders banded together at Nassau Democratic Headquarters, calling to fire State Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs after his disparaging and “racist” remarks towards endorsing candidate India Walton in the Buffalo mayoral race last Thursday, Oct 21. 

Jacobs, who’s based in Nassau County, compared Walton, a socialist Black woman candidate, to former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke when asked why he wouldn’t endorse her for Buffalo mayor against incumbent Mayor Byron Brown.

Serena Martin-Liguori, who’s with the Long Island Social Justice Action Network, called Jacobs’ comments grossly “out of touch” and that the Democratic Party on Long Island is changing as a whole because of the Black Lives Matter movement and young, engaged voters. 

“It just doesn’t make any sense as to why he thinks India Walton doesn’t deserve the endorsement of the Democratic Party. She is a hardworking mom, nurse, woman of color, and she’s representing the working class,” said Martin-Liguori, “The strange and bizarre comparison to David Duke, literally boggles my mind.”

The network, and others like U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and state committee member Nobles Crawford, have demanded Jacobs’ resignation. The network said the statements Jacobs made against a clearly diverse progressive candidate demonstrates a “lack of understanding of structural and institutional racism.” Martin-Liguori said it’s “problematic” at best that former Gov. Andrew Cuomo was the one who recommended that Jacobs be state party chair to begin with.

Martin-Liguori said it’s time old Dems start embracing change, especially since there are such wide-ranging socioeconomic disparities between communities that are primarily Black and Brown, like Hempstead, and ones that aren’t, like Garden City, on Long Island.

Meanwhile, Buffalo native Walton has already secured the June primary for mayor and has received more endorsements. She’s gotten backing from Majority Leader and Senator Chuck Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Council member Rasheed Wyatt, Erie County Legislator April Baskin, NYS Sen. Sean Ryan, and Assembly member Jon Rivera, since Jacobs’ remarks sparked controversy.

Jacobs did release a “tepid apology,’’ reported City and State.

“Initially, I was disappointed. But also, I’ve not always said the right thing at the right time so I extend a lot of grace to Mr. Jacobs,” said Walton in response to Jacobs via Twitter. “I think he could’ve found a better example to use.”

Walton said she sees what Jacobs said as a “huge mistake” on his part, but had they had an opportunity to know one another, it is one he probably would not have made.  

Ariama C. Long is a Report for America Corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for the AmsterdamNews. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w

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