Massachusetts’ Republican officials reportedly spent thousands of dollars to support the campaign of a Boston City Council candidate who has repeatedly expressed anti-Asian sentiments on social media.
Driving the news: Donnie Palmer, who ran in the Sept. 14 preliminary election, has made anti-Asian statements targeting Michelle Wu, a Taiwanese American councilor running to become Boston’s mayor.
In a Facebook post on Aug. 29, Palmer asked, “ARE WE ABOUT TO ELECT A CHINESE CITIZEN TO CONTROL THE CITY OF BOSTON?” The post included side-by-side photos of Wu and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Under a tweet that featured Wu’s TV ad, Palmer referred to COVID-19 as a “Chinese” virus and asked, “Does China run Boston?” In another tweet, he claimed that Australia is controlled by China and that “WE [U.S.] ARE NEXT.”
Palmer, a professional boxer from Dorchester, ultimately lost the at-large race after finishing 14th out of 17 candidates. He has since announced his plan to challenge Democratic Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley next year.
No action: Massachusetts Republican Party Chairman Jim Lyons was reportedly informed of Palmer’s actions but ignored them and continued to support the candidate.
Jaclyn Corriveau, the second Essex District state committeewoman, who is also Republican, said she reached out to Lyons over Palmer’s Facebook post on Aug. 31. Screenshots shared with Boston.com show her telling the party chair, “I would appreciate a retraction of support. As a Chinese American, this is unacceptable. I hope you find it to be too.”
Corriveau said she is the only Asian American official on the 80-member state committee. Additionally, she is the only minority on it.
Despite Corriveau pointing out that it was Lyons’ chance to denounce Asian hate, the party leader only offered to give Palmer’s contact details. “I’d suggest once again that you bring your concerns to Donnie,” he wrote.
The Republican State Committee recently disclosed that it spent $3,697 on Facebook ads supporting Palmer in August, according to The Dorchester Reporter. The night before the election, the party encouraged voters to support Palmer once more, confirming that they ignored Corriveau’s calls for a retraction.
The Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association (BPPA), which supported Palmer and four other candidates, said they had no knowledge of his anti-Asian posts. “We were completely unaware of these postings and we do not condone these racist statements,” President Larry Calderone said in a statement. “Further, at that time, we were unaware of these or any other postings that reflected racist attitudes by Mr. Palmer. The BPPA abhors all forms of racism and Mr. Palmer’s statements do not reflect our values.”
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