On Nov. 21, community groups sent New York State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan a letter calling on him to immediately demand the resignation of Stephen Bannon, Trump’s recently appointed Chief White House Strategist.
Flanagan is in a unique position to take action as the highest ranking elected Republican in New York state – especially in light of the uptick in hate crimes reported across in the state since Election Day.
Bannon is an unacceptable choice for the White House post because of his work overseeing the alt-right screed Breitbart News, a website that the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as giving voice to white-nationalism and other hate groups.
The text of the letter is below:
November 21, 2016
Hon. John Flanagan
Senate Majority Leader
Room 330, State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12247
Dear Majority Leader Flanagan:
In a repugnantly shocking move President-Elect Donald Trump announced that alt-right leader Stephen Bannon will be his Chief White House Strategist. This goes beyond individual prejudice, this is politically organized racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim. Anyone who turns a blind eye to Bannon is providing a green light to hate crimes. Alarmingly there have been over 400 hate crime incidents since the election—a historically high surge.[i] Right here in New York we have seen swastikas in Wellsville, Brooklyn and Geneseo, racist graffiti in New Paltz and graffiti on a Muslim prayer room at New York University—all were Trump-themed. This does not include the remarks and harassment that goes unreported and that many New Yorkers are now experiencing.
Those praising Bannon are frightening. David Duke, former Imperial Wizard of the KKK called him an “excellent” choice who is “basically creating the ideological aspects of where we’re going.” And the head of the American Nazi Party said the pick indicates that Trump is “for real.” Other white supremacist leaders have been equally glowing about Bannon.
Bannon receives the praise of white supremacists because he has earned it. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes him as “one of the foremost peddlers of White Supremacist themes and rhetoric.” His ex-wife swore in court documents that he did not want his children “going to school with Jews…He said he doesn’t like Jews.” Bannon is one of the foremost alt-right leaders in the nation.
We reject Bannon’s clearly racist and sexist values and his commitment to building a noxious movement around these values. President-Elect Trump has the prerogative to pick his own advisors, but Stephen Bannon is unacceptable and must be rejected by Republican leaders in New York and across the country. While the White House Strategist does not require confirmation by the Senate, there are many more appointees who will. The U.S. Senate must refuse to take up any White House appointees until Bannon is discharged from having any role in the governance of our nation.
As the highest ranking Republican elected leader in the state, the mantel of leadership among New York Republicans falls on you. It is essential that you organize your Senate colleagues, and Republican elected officials statewide, to publicly demand Bannon’s immediate resignation and demand that the U.S. Senate refuses to consider any of the President-Elect’s nominees until he fires Bannon.
When you endorsed Donald Trump you did so “unequivocally.” Now New Yorkers need you to make it unequivocally clear that New York’s leading Republican will not tolerate a white supremacist as the President’s top advisor.
Afua Atta-Mensah, Executive Director, Community Voices Heard
Jonathan Westin, Executive Director, New York Communities for Change
Joo-Hyun Kang, Director, Communities United for Police Reform
Javier Valdes and Deborah Axt, Co-Executive Directors, Make the Road New York
Karen Scharff, Executive Director, Citizen Action of New York
Billy Easton, Executive Director, and Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director, Alliance for Quality Education
Bill Lipton, Director, New York Working Families Party
Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director, Alliance for a Greater New York (ALIGN)
Jeremy Saunders, Co-Executive Director, VOCAL-NY
Charles King, President and CEO, Housing Works, Inc.
Michael Kink, Executive Director, Strong Economy for All Coalition
Andrew Friedman, Co-Executive Director, Center for Popular Democracy
James Norman and Kate Bennett, Co-Chairs, Facing Race Embracing Equality (FR=EE), Rochester
Natasha Capers, Coordinator, New York City Coalition for Educational Justice
Carmen Perez, Executive Director, Justice League NYC