We need to address the response to a recent post on the Richmond District Democratic Club’s (RDDC) Facebook page. Normally we would encourage our members and officers to not engage with disrespectful comments, however, this is a situation where we cannot ignore the attacks on our officers and membership that are taking place.
We have been a locally chartered Democratic club for more than 30 years. While we take political positions, make endorsements, and register voters, part of our mission statement is to also take positions on policy and current events happening in our beloved neighborhood.
At our April 25th, 2019 meeting we took such a position on the “Life of Washington Murals”. This was introduced as a resolution that was noticed, presented, amended, and passed by a majority, within the guidelines of both parliamentary procedure and the bylaws of our club. The discussion included participants from both parties involved with this issue. Our members listened to all sides and asked thoughtful questions before casting their vote. In the end, we voted to support the removal of the murals. Not every member present agreed with the vote, but they accepted it as the official position of the club. In fact, one of our long time board members has actually been a leader in the preservation of the murals. While his personal position does not align with ours, we are incredibly proud of how he has actively listened to differing opinions and tried to build bridges with people who hold opposing positions on this issue.
Taking positions such as this one is what clubs like ours do. Therefore, we stand by our vote and process.
Earlier this week, our treasurer, Brandon Harami, wrote a post on Medium to make the case for the LGBTQIA community to stand in solidarity with the Black and Native activists calling for the removal of the mural. Within it, he briefly mentioned the Alioto Family. In a singular sentence, he pointed out Commissioner Joe Alioto Veronese’s guest appearance Fox News to support what Mr. Harami believed to be a problematic and false narrative on what has been happening with the murals. That segment compared the trauma of Black and Native folks to the Taliban. Mr. Harami also shared a screenshot of Commissioner Alioto Veronese’s mother, former Board of Supervisors President (and current San Francisco Democratic Central Committee Member), Angela Alioto, lauding her son’s Fox News appearance.
In response to this very minor blip in a much longer article, the Aliotos felt the need to attack Mr. Harami and our club over Facebook. They also encouraged their followers to attack our organization and cruelly degrade Mr. Harami. Angela herself can be seen on our page threatening to sue us and have us de-chartered.
Never in this Medium piece did Mr. Harami claim to speak on behalf of our club, nor did he make any of the statements the Aliotos claim he did. Mr. Harami is an elected club officer who shared an article that aligned with an official position that we took. While we respect that many may disagree with our position, it was entirely appropriate.
Here is where we believe that harm is being done.
We acknowledge that Democrats come in all shades of blue and diversity of opinion makes us a stronger party. However, we do not believe that it is a Democratic value for a figure of the Democratic Party to engage with an openly racist host like Tucker Carlson.
It is an absolute abuse of power for Angela to throw the privilege of her position around like this. Revoking a club’s charter is a process for only the most extreme grievances and there are very specific offenses that make up the criteria for even entertaining that process. Moreover, her threats to sue are absurd: she can’t say we “defamed” her over comments never uttered.
Mr. Harami never called the Aliotos white supremacists nor were Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Governor Gavin Newsom mentioned as the Aliotos have tried to claim. We don’t think that the Aliotos are white supremacists. That being said, the Aliotos have repeatedly upheld systems of white supremacy over the years. Angela has aggressively dismissed the experiences of people color, repeatedly used the N-word in a public meeting, and viilifyied undocumented immigrants. Further, she has encouraged a supporter to make a violent threat against the Chair of the local Democratic Party, a queer man of color, then used a handful of people of color who have supported her in the past as a sheild to prove that her family are woke white people. Racism doesn’t have a political party. Identifying as a liberal doesn’t preclude you from contributing to a racist society, even in the most seemingly benign ways.
Unlike the RDDC, the Aliotos have never even attempted to engage, listen to, or even agree to disagree with the Native and Black students who have been making the case for the murals to be removed for the past 50 years. They have instead decided to take the low road whenever possible, calling these racial justice activists “extremists”.
The Aliotos have accused The Richmond District Democratic Club of helping to re-elect Donald Trump. This is a false flag. Our diverse club is made up queer folks, disabled folks, people of color, seniors, and immigrants - the very communites Trump has continiued to dehunmanize and incite hatred against.
If the Aliotos wanted to have a productive conversation with Mr. Harami or any other representative of our club, they could have reached out. We would have been happy to host them at a board meeting or a general meeting to have a mature discussion. They did not. Instead, they chose to hide behind a keyboard and computer screen to rile their followers, abuse their power, and portray themselves as the real victims of the mural debate.
We hope that San Francisco Democratic Central Committee will hold Angela and Joe accountable for their actions and their threats. We would also appreciate a formal retraction and apology from the Alioto family for those actions.