India Walton compared to KKK leader in shocking outburst by New York Democratic Party chair

Buffalo, New York – The chair of the New York State Democratic Party has come under fire for comparing India Walton, a Black woman running to become Buffalo's next mayor, to a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

India Walton, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, won the Democratic primary for Buffalo mayor in June 2021.
India Walton, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, won the Democratic primary for Buffalo mayor in June 2021.  © Screenshot/Facebook/India Walton for Buffalo

A Black, working-class woman running as a socialist, India Walton electrified the nation when she won the Democratic primary to become the next mayor of Buffalo, New York.

But her biggest competitor, incumbent Byron Brown, didn't take kindly to his loss.

Rather than concede and support Walton's campaign for the general election, Brown instead decided to run as a third-party candidate, launching a write-in campaign and amassing large donations from wealthy donors along the way.

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Walton hasn't compromised on her progressive platform or her grassroots fundraising model, energizing more and more dedicated supporters not just in Buffalo but across the country.

Nevertheless, many top New York Democrats, including Governor Kathy Hochul and State Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs, have failed to endorse Walton, despite her being the party's nominee.

When asked in an interview with Spectrum News what kind of precedent it sets if leading Democrats don't endorse Walton, Jacobs responded, "Let’s take a scenario, very different, where David Duke – you remember him, the grand wizard of the KKK – he moves to New York, he becomes a Democrat, he runs for mayor in the city of Rochester, which is a low primary turnout, and he wins the Democratic line."

He continued, "I have to endorse David Duke? I don’t think so. Now, of course, India Walton is not in the same category. But it just leads you to that question: Is it a must? It’s not a must."

Jacobs faces criticism over his remarks

Walton said she is undeterred by negative remarks from corporate Democrats and remains fully committed to her campaign.
Walton said she is undeterred by negative remarks from corporate Democrats and remains fully committed to her campaign.  © Screenshot/Facebook/India Walton for Buffalo

Jacobs' remarks have sparked an outcry from progressives, who naturally resent his drawing a connection between a Black woman and a leader of the KKK.

New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman called for Jacobs' resignation on Twitter: "It’s insane to equate India Walton, a Black woman, with David Duke, someone who supports the legacy of lynching black people and the rape of Black women. This is the malignant narcissism of far too many white men. Jay Jacobs needs to resign or be removed."

Meanwhile, progressive icon Nina Turner urged people to go to the ballot box to send Walton to City Hall: "What in the whole hell foolery is this? I have said before &I will say it again, corporatist Dems will fight their momma 2stop progressives. City of Buffalo, you must send a people’s champion 2city hall. You voted 4her in the primary, now bring it on home."

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India Walton herself also weighed in on the "ridiculous, outrageous, offensive comparison."

"Let’s start with the obvious: I am a working class Black mother, a Registered Nurse, and non-profit executive," she wrote on Facebook. "I was duly nominated by Democratic voters who share my vision of a safe, healthy Buffalo, where everyone has housing, no one has lead poisoning, and City Hall isn’t raided by the FBI."

"What does it say about corporate Democrats that they can’t tell the difference between that and endorsing the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan? What does it say about their respect for the Democratic voters to whom they are supposed to be accountable? What does it say about their vision for the Democratic Party?"

Jacobs has since issued a tepid apology, saying he "should have used a different example." Nevertheless, he "stand[s] by [his] argument that not every candidate who wins a primary is entitled, unquestionably, to the endorsement of all Party leaders or elected officials."

Despite the drama, Walton says she is "undaunted, unafraid, fired up, and ready to go" as her campaign draws closer to the critical election on November 2.

Cover photo: Screenshots/Facebook/India Walton for Buffalo

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