UPDATED: 1:25 p.m. EDT, Oct. 23, 2018:
A group of 10 Black and Latino campaign workers suing JB Pritzker for racial discrimination spoke out on Monday about their lawsuit, which they filed just three weeks ahead of the midterm elections.
“We were ignored, silenced, intimidated and forced to endure their abuse of power,” Maxwell Little, Pritzker field organizer, said, according to WLS-TV, an ABC-owned station.
The lawsuit is about “fighting for their rights” and “dignity,” not politics, the plaintiffs said.
“We are not going to give specifics, we do that in court. That’s what court is for, we’re here today because we’re answering questions and other matters that have been brought up to smear these people’s reputation, their character, their dignity,” Shay Allen, attorney for plaintiffs, said.
The plaintiffs sought a quick settlement of $7.5 million and want reforms to stop the “cesspool of racial discrimination and harassment” in Pritzker’s campaign. The Illinois governor candidate vehemently denied their allegations.
Stories of racism involving political candidates in several races have come out ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. The stories have undoubtedly sparked controversy for white male candidates such as Brian Kemp, Ron DeSantis and JB Pritzker.
Pritzker, who is running for Illinois governor, is the subject of a federal racial discrimination lawsuit. Ten Black and Latinx campaign workers for the candidate, who already has some racist blemishes on his record, are seeking $7.5 million and several reform measures, they said in the suit filed on Wednesday (Oct. 17), reported the Chicago Sun-Times The candidate is running a campaign that is a “cesspool of racial discrimination and harassment,” they said.
Specifically, Pritzker promoted racial discrimination by “herding” Black and Latino workers into “less desirable jobs than white staffers” with no options for promotions, they said. Organizers of color were sent into the field to perform “racist tasks” such as being told to “go round up 40 Black guys” for an event as part of the campaign, according to the suit.
Pritzker, unsurprisingly, denounced the suit as false. The lawsuit brings up racism wounds from the candidate’s past: In February, the Chicago Tribune released recordings of an FBI wiretapped conversation that Pritzker had with incarcerated former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Pritzker referred to Secretary of State Jesse White as the “least offensive” of possible African-American candidates for Barack Obama’s Senate seat in one taped call from Nov. 14, 2008. The candidate also then hinted that Blagojevich should consider White to replace Obama because “it covers you on the African-American thing.”
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is running for state govenor against Stacey Abrams, has been called out for reported controversial behavior as well. Civil rights groups are suing Kemp for allegedly trying to suppress the Black vote, a practice that has disproportionately affected African Americans.
In Florida, Ron DeSantis, the GOP’s gubernatiorial candidate opposing Andrew Gillum, sparked outrage after he told Florida voters not to “monkey up” the election by supporting Gillum. The comment took on a racist undertone by using the word, “monkey,” a derogatory insult historically meant to target Black people.
The stories of racism among political candidates are seemingly neverending.