News & Politics

These 11 Representatives from Civil Rights Organizations Are Now Calling for Pro-Trump California Deputy DA to Be Fired

Their letter expresses “grave concerns over recent revelations of intolerably bigoted and biased comments."

Photo Credit: CBS Los Angeles/Facebook (YouTube)

In San Bernardino County, California east of Los Angeles, Deputy District Attorney Michael Selyem—an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump—has been under paid suspension for racist and misogynist posts attacking African-Americans and Latinos. And the pressure was turned up this week when, on July 25, 11 representatives of civil rights organizations sent a joint letter to Bernardino County DA Mike Ramos calling for Selyem to be fired.

Those who signed the letter included the Rev. Al Sharpton (president of the National Action Network and host of “Politics Nation” on MSNBC), Sherrilyn Ifill (president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund), Kristen Clarke (president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law) and the NAACP’s Derrick Johnson as well as representatives of the National Urban League, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Women’s Law Center, IMPACT Strategies, the National Council of Negro Women, and Campaign Zero. 

In the letter, the civil rights activists asserted that they had “grave concerns over recent revelations of intolerably bigoted and biased comments by a deputy district attorney in your office.”

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The letter went on to say, “As recent media reports have indicated, Deputy District Attorney Michael Selyem has demonstrated a disturbing pattern of racist and sexist social media commentary aimed at women and people of color, including barely-veiled threats leveled at U.S. Representative Maxine Waters. The remarks represent a clear violation of professional ethics and basic norms of civility, and are categorically disqualifying of a law enforcement official charged with ensuring equal justice under law.”

Sharpton did not mince words in the leader, which quoted him as saying, “Keeping Deputy District Attorney Selyem on payroll after his disqualifying attacks on Americans of color and a respected U.S. congresswoman shows the outrageous complacency of our law enforcement mechanisms in addressing even the most outright bigotry in our criminal justice system. Failure to ensure accountability for his hate-filled remarks flies in the face of the office’s duty-bound obligation to uphold the letter and spirit of the law.” 

Selyem has been with the San Bernardino County DA’s Office for 12 years, but he seemed to become especially inflammatory after Trump became president. And he didn’t like the fact that Waters was critical of Trump’s immigration policy, which Selyem enthusiastically supports.

The prosecutor used his Facebook page to his attack Waters, posting, “Being a loud-mouthed cunt in the ghetto, you would think someone would have shot this bitch by now.” Selyem’s Facebook page has since been deleted, although screenshots of his anti-Waters tirades were published in the San Bernardino Sun.

Waters wasn’t the only political figure Selyem went after via social media. The prosecutor also attacked two former first ladies: Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. Selyem posted a doctored picture of Obama saying, “Trump grabbed my penis.” And in a different post, Selyem mentioned Clinton while explaining why he preferred white immigrants over non-white immigrants.

Selyem sounded very Trump-like when he posted, “I am all for white males immigrating here legally and starting a business. It is the terrorist assholes sneaking in here wanting to kill me (and) my family that I am opposed to. I cannot believe how shallow Democrats are. They must really think people are stupid. I guess that is evident because they actually thought Hilary (sic) Clinton could win a presidential election… TWICE!!! LMFAO!!!”

Before his suspension, Selyem was in charge of the anti-gang unit of the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office—and a post that discussed predominantly Latino gangs depicted a man in a giant sombrero with the words “Mexican word of the day: hide.”

After finding out about Selyem’s posts, Rep. Pete Aguilar asserted that it wasn’t enough for Selyem to face suspension—he needed to be fired. Aguilar (who represents San Bernardino County in the U.S. House of Representatives and is seeking reelection in the November midterms) expressed his displeasure on Twitter, posting, “We cannot allow racism and bigotry to have a place in our society, especially not in our government. The comments made by Deputy District Attorney Michael Selyem are unacceptable, and he should be fired immediately.”

Before this week, most of the criticism of Selyem was coming from Southern California. But with Sharpton, Ifill and others now calling for him to be fired, the controversy has gone national in a big way.

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Alex Henderson is a news writer at AlterNet and veteran political journalist. His work has also appeared in Salon, Raw Story, Truthdig, National Memo, Philadelphia Weekly, Democratic Underground, L.A. Weekly, MintPress News and many other publications. Follow him on Twitter @alexvhenderson.