Democrat George Latimer questioned about deleted Facebook post comparing Andrew Cuomo to Emmett Till

Latimer was asked about a 2021 post he made suggesting that Cuomo was comparable to a victim of lynching

Published June 13, 2024 3:39PM (EDT)

 George Latimer speaks as Daybase opens its first hybrid work location in Westchester on July 25, 2022 in Harrison, New York. (Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Daybase)
George Latimer speaks as Daybase opens its first hybrid work location in Westchester on July 25, 2022 in Harrison, New York. (Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Daybase)

George Latimer, the Westchester County politician who has launched a primary challenge against incumbent Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., would like to talk about anything but a Facebook post he made in 2021 that compared the fallout over then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo's sexual harassment scandal to the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till, a Black teenager from Mississippi. 

But on Wednesday, Latimer, already dogged by allegations of racist campaign tactics, was confronted about the post by a caller named Becky on the Brian Lehrer Show.

"When Andrew Cuomo was facing his reckoning for sexually harassing women, and you came to his defense, you had the audacity to compare what Cuomo was experiencing to the lynching of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old child who was mutilated, murdered, and lynched," the caller said. "I'd like for you to respond to that."

In the 2021 post, Latimer wrote in response to allegations that then-Gov. Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women: "In our world, no matter how heinous the crime committed, we presume innocence until guilt is proven. That standard when we adhere to it, protects you and me. When it is not adhered to, when a mob hangs Emmett Till, the quote, 'justice turns out to be a crime itself.'"

On Wednesday, Latimer responded to the question about the post by trumpeting his support among Black leaders.

"What I can tell you is, is that the Mount Vernon Democratic Committee, which is 85% African American, endorsed me unanimously for this position," Latimer said. "I have the support of African-American county legislators, African-American elected officials throughout the county."

Latimer went on to suggest he was being targeted because of the color of his skin, arguing it was not right to say that "you cannot be in office unless you have my identity," prompting an interjection from Lehrer, who noted that the caller did not actually say that.

When Lehrer tried to bring the conversation back to the Facebook post, Latimer responded that he had already deleted it, grudgingly admitting that it was a "foolish set of words" and that it was "hurtful to some people." Lehrer, saying that people deserved to know what the post said, then read it out loud.

Latimer finished the exchange by reiterating his position that Cuomo should not have been asked to resign before a full report on the allegations against him was completed by Attorney General Letitia James. In August 2021, James issued that report, finding that Cuomo had sexually harassed multiple staffers and government workers. Latimer at that point joined other elected officials in calling for Cuomo's resignation, which was tendered by the end of the month (Cuomo still denies he did anything wrong).

Latimer, a staunch Israel supporter who is backed by millions of dollars from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, leads Bowman in polls heading into the June 25 primary election. Bowman, a critic of Israel, has also been involved in recent controversies, such as setting off a fire alarm that disrupted a congressional vote. The Daily Beast also reported that Bowman promoted conspiracy theories about 9/11 on his personal blog back when he was a middle school principal.

Latimer's primary challenge has won the support of many prominent Democrats, including Rep. Eliot Engel, who Bowman defeated in 2020, and Hillary Clinton, as well as former Rep. Mondaire Jones. Bowman can count on the support of House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries and many progressives, including the Working Families Party, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

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