District Leader resigns after boycott of Brooklyn Dems forum

Lori Maslow
Lori Maslow at a December Zoom meeting for the Brooklyn Democratic Party.

Beleaguered District Leader Lori Maslow resigned from office Thursday evening following a four-day boycott of the Brooklyn Democratic Party’s upcoming 2021 elections forum, as progressive politicos drew widespread attention to a string of racist comments the Marine Park elected official had made on social media.

Maslow issued her resignation to the party citing harassment and vilification she received online, comparing actions of her critics to right-wing militias supporting former President Donald Trump.

“I have received threatening messages. My family is very concerned for my safety. Extremism in this country is not limited to right wing Trump militias. Threats are nothing to ignore. That is why I will be stepping down effective immediately,” Maslow said in the Jan. 28 statement tweeted out by the Brooklyn Democratic Party’s official Twitter account.

Maslow’s departure follows a campaign by borough party reformers and progressive politicians who called on candidates for mayor, comptroller, and Brooklyn borough president to not partake in a forum hosted by the Brooklyn Democratic Party and moderated by NY1 anchor Errol Louis on Jan. 31.

The group of progressive district leaders and county committee members called on candidates in a Jan. 25 open letter to bow out of the debate until the party further condemned Maslow’s bigoted comments against Chinese and Palestinian people and urged her to resign from the low-level unpaid elected position.

Several high-profile candidates publicly dropped out following the boycott’s launch, including Dianne Morales, Scott Stringer, Andrew Yang, Maya Wiley, Antonio Reynoso, and Jo Anne Simon.

Maslow, a former Republican who served as the Democratic female district leader in the 41st Assembly District, drew heat when she tweeted that she couldn’t “even look at Chinese food” in reference to a New York Times story about Chinese tariffs earlier this month.

In her Thursday letter, the southern Brooklyn pol tried to excuse her comments saying they had been “misconstrued” and that they were in fact criticism of the Chinese government for jailing a journalist.

“In attempting to show support for this young woman and call out the Chinese government for its oppression, I wrote a criticism of the Chinese government which people misconstrued as offensive,” Maslow wrote. “My tweet mentioned food, but I should have elaborated that my concern was eating while this tortured journalist was on a hunger strike.”

Party Boss Rodneyse Bichotte condemned Maslow’s original statements, and the district leader resigned from her largely-symbolic sixth vice chair position of the party, saying she would undergo “racial justice training.”

But the southern Brooklynite declined to step down from her district leadership role, a volunteer elected position that gives her power to vote on the party’s 42-member executive committee.

She has been closely aligned with party leadership ever since she was elected in 2016 and her husband, Aaron Maslow, is an election lawyer for the borough Dems who also serves at the helm of several of the group’s committees and task forces.

Her anti-Chinese comments made Jan. 2 spurred online sleuths to dig up more of Maslow’s tweets from the past years, including one citing the Bible implying that Palestinians would be wiped “off the face of the earth,” as well as several insults she lobbed at a Palestinian-American congresswoman from Michigan, Rashida Tlaib.

Maslow, who noted in her letter that she is Jewish, said she used “harsh language in discussing [sic] terrorist who murders Israeli Jews,” but said she was not Islamophobic and opposed violence against any group of people.

“I very much do embrace the Muslim community, not just abroad but here at home where the ‘melting pot’ culture is exactly what makes Brooklyn so special. But I will always condemn those who oppose the State of Israel,” she said.

The party, in its tweet of the release, accepted the resignation of Maslow and thanked her for her years of service.

“This evening we received the following letter from Lori Maslow. We thank her for her years of service and accept her resignation,” the party tweeted.

Now, at least one candidate previously boycotting the forum, Andrew Yang, has agreed to attend the virtual session, according to his campaign staff