On Sunday, the New York Post earned the ire of congressional Democrats when it published a piece about new Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hire Dyjuan Tatro: “House Dems hire ex-gang member to top campaign post.”
Tatro, who was tapped to be the senior adviser of strategic outreach in the diversity and inclusion department of the campaign arm of Democrats in the lower chamber, had a shaky history — but he’d risen to a degree of prominence after being featured on a PBS documentary about prisoners trying to earn degrees while behind bars. He was there because of “a six-year sentence for racketeering conspiracy,” the Post reported.
“At the time of that 2011 conviction, Tatro had already been doing time for shooting two rival gang members in 2006. Described at the time as a ‘triggerman’ for the Original Gangsta Killas street gang that terrorized Albany, Tatro confessed to the shootings, and to a ‘razor slashing’ of another victim in 2002 as well as to dealing drugs,” the report continued.
“He admitted to making at least $12,000 a month dealing drugs and conspired to traffic more than 50 grams of crack cocaine.”
DCCC communications director Cole Leiter slammed the headline and the article.
.@DyjuanTatro serves his time.
— Cole Leiter (@coleleiter) February 15, 2021
Yes, the article did mention he became an outspoken advocate of reforming prison educational systems since his release in 2017, but it didn’t exactly upfront that fact. Yes, Tatro has served his time to society. Perhaps we oughtn’t judge him on that.
Let’s judge him, instead, on a series of wildly inappropriate tweets over the past year that would have made him, in any other universe, practically unemployable.
“The Capitol police have a budget in excess of what it takes to police 2 major cities (ATL & Detroit) and yet they couldn’t secure 2 sq. miles. THIS IS NOT A RESOURCE PROBLEM, it’s a race problem, a power problem, an ideological problem,” he wrote.
“The answer to white supremacists storming the Capitol is not to give more money to a different group of white supremacists who’s job it is to uphold white supremacy.”
In June, meanwhile — back when Tatro had set his name as “#DefundThePolice” — he compared law enforcement to Hitlerites.
“To all those people who want to reform the police because all cops aren’t bad, should we just go ahead and revive Nazism because all Nazis weren’t bad?” he tweeted.
“I didn’t think so. Case closed.”
Not only is that unconvincing, it’s reprehensible. It’s unclear whether the DCCC knew about these tweets. If they didn’t, Fox News apparently knew where to find them. (For whatever it’s worth, Fox News’ request for comment from Tatro and the DCCC “was not immediately returned.”)
Of course, that would discount the tweets that were still available. One involved his response to a Twitterer who said he didn’t “understand why we can’t say that significant police reform is vitally needed, while at the same time condemning violent and looting protesters.”
“I don’t understand why you can’t CONDEMN VIOLENT POLICE & acknowledge LOOTING as a VITAL form of social PROTEST,” Tatro wrote. “And, how about YOU not use sterilized language when referring to state sanctioned murder while maligning protests against the systemic racism that enables it.”
I’m sure you want to seem smart & reasonable, but, as a BLACK MAN, I’m here to inform you that you sound insensitive & tone deaf. In the least, you could have called for those cops to be prosecuted. This is not a reform moment. You are not being helpful.
— Dyjuan Tatro (@DyjuanTatro) August 27, 2020
“I’m sure you want to seem smart & reasonable, but, as a BLACK MAN, I’m here to inform you that you sound insensitive & tone deaf. In the least, you could have called for those cops to be prosecuted,” he continued.
“This is not a reform moment. You are not being helpful.”
Finally. It’s been too long. Not since Vicky Osterweil have I seen anyone with a modicum of prominence defend looting — and unlike Tatro, Osterweil was only prominent because his book “In Defense of Looting” was felicitously being rolled out last August, as people were, like, actually looting.
Not only is Tatro a high-profile activist about to make the leap to Beltway player, he decided, assumedly after combing through his Twitter for potential faux pas, that this one was all right to stay up.
It’s worth comparing this to the Twitter solecisms of a higher-profile Democratic nominee: Neera Tanden, tapped by President Joe Biden to head the Office of Management and Budget.
Tanden was a prolific social media troll, particularly during the Trump years. Between Nov. 1 and early December, she deleted over a thousand tweets out of over 88,000 missives, many of them about upper-chamber Republicans.
Over the years, she has called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “Moscow Mitch” and said Sen. Susan Collins was “the worst.” Sen. Tom Cotton was “a fraud,” and “vampires have more heart” than Sen. Ted Cruz, according to The Associated Press.
It wasn’t limited to Republicans; her attacks on Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders included a tweet saying that “Russia did a lot more to help Bernie than the DNC’s random internal emails did to help Hillary.”
In both cases, it brings me back to when Democrats were Deeply Concerned™ about the tone of certain public officials on Twitter.
In Tanden’s case, she effectively called multiple senators Russian assets and said others were fraudulent and more cold-blooded than vampires. (I’m assuming not the beefcake vampires of the “Twilight” franchise, either.)
In Tatro’s case, he defended looting as justified and compared police officers to Nazis. In the wake of a riot at the Capitol that’s been linked to the death of a police officer, he called the Capitol Police a “group of white supremacists.”
I don’t particularly care that Tatro was a gang member. If anything, the redemptive arc would have been difficult to scoff at. At least on social media, Tatro makes it easy to scoff at.
This isn’t a case of social media venom coming from behind the veil of anonymity, given Tatro is a public man whose Twitter account is part of his brand.
His brand, in the not-too-distant past, involved the embrace of looting and a troubling animus toward police. Dyjuan Tatro may have served his time, but these aren’t the kind of Twitter posts the DCCC should be cosigning.
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