Brooklyn Dems call for Hynes apology

A group of Brooklyn Democratic Party leaders and elected officials stood on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall to call jointly on Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes – a Democrat who is running on the Republican and Conservative lines in November — to apologize for using what they call “divisive rhetoric” in his re-election campaign against Kenneth Thompson, who beat Hynes in the September 10 primary for the Democratic Party nomination for D.A.

They allege that Hynes’s campaign has distributed flyers that invoke racially-charged imagery of black men in handcuffs, has lied about disgraced Kings County Democratic Party (KCDP) chairperson Clarence Norman, Jr.’s involvement in Thompson’s primary campaign, and that he compared Thompson to gun runners in an October 17 interview with NY1.

“[Our candidates] are supposed to be professional. This [rally] is to remind candidates that, like the Hebrew National [hot dog] commercial, ‘We answer to a higher authority,’” said Frank Seddio, the current Kings County Democratic chairperson.

“[Hynes] has every right to run, but not to bring this race down to the gutter,” he added. “We want to still see a professional demeanor in the race for D.A.”

“Brooklyn should not be torn apart by electoral season,” said State Senator Eric Adams. “Our community is a melting pot, so the tone the DA is taking is not a tone we want. The DA has led an admirable career, but this is not the tone we called for [and] not the Brooklyn we’re building towards.”

Councilmember Brad Lander was even more blunt, contending that “the D.A. chose a scorched earth tactic” and “the entire premise of [Hynes’] campaign is on unfounded allegations designed to scare white people.

“Brooklyn does a good job of bringing a diverse set of leaders together into a gorgeous mosaic, but that can be exploited,” Lander went on. “When that happens, we have a responsibility not to overreact, but to address it.”

Thompson was not present at the rally, but several campaign volunteers were present to observe.

Thompson’s campaign has denied Norman’s involvement in any capacity with his election campaign.

In response to the criticism, Hynes campaign spokesperson Jerry Schmetterer stated that “there’s nothing to apologize for. . . This is a ridiculous distraction. D.A. Hynes does not have a racist bone in his body.

“The D.A. did not insult Ken Thompson. This is just a distraction from Ken Thompson’s own issues,” said Schmetterer. “Thompson needs to be more concerned with the corrupt political boss running his campaign, specifically Clarence Norman.”

Regarding the charge that Hynes compared Thompson to gun dealers, a NY1 reporter at the rally stated that in context, the statement was not considered an insult, and that the interview was taking place at Hynes’ announcement of a major gun trafficking bust, where multiple reporters were asking questions simultaneously about the arrests and the campaign.

Adams responded that “we’re not here to be oversensitive, but when many of those comments are made [at the same time] as flyers go out talking about the bad old days in an effort to divide along racial lines, bad jokes are unacceptable.”

After initially stating that he would not campaign for the general election, in the wake of his primary upset, on October 8, Hynes announced that he would campaign as a candidate with the Republican and Conservative parties, whose lines he had received prior to the September primary. According to Schmetterer, the decision came following vocal support from Democratic and Republican supporters alike.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 5.

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