In response to evidence that Vedat Gashi’s campaign may have altered Jamaal Bowman’s skin tone in an attack mailer, New York Working Families Party Chapter Chairs Jennifer Cabrera and Peter Bernstein have issued the following statement:
“The Westchester-Putnam Chapter of the Working Families Party is outraged and disappointed at campaign tactics in attack ads mailed by the Vedat Gashi campaign targeting our endorsed candidate Congressman Jamaal Bowman. The mailer in question uses a photo that was either modified to darken Rep. Bowman’s skin tone or was chosen so that Rep. Bowman appears darker than he is. This racist tactic has a long history in political ads against Black candidates. Such ads take advantage of implicit fear and distrust of darker Black Americans.
“In addition to the unacceptable use of the photo, attacks on Rep. Bowman’s positions on criminal justice reform and public safety have racist undertones. The failure of mass incarceration which has overwhelmingly targeted Black and brown communities is well recognized by experts. Our State Legislators, led by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie—have adopted long overdue criminal justice reforms based on the core American standard of innocence until proven guilty. These changes were supported by the Westchester County Board of Legislators, of which Vedat Gashi is a member.
“Rep. Bowman believes that we need to invest in the potential of young people living in marginalized communities in order to address the underlying causes of crime. As do we. Mr. Gashi should be listening and learning from Congressman Bowman instead of resorting to cynical, disrespectful and racist political tactics.”