Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters has long been a favorite target of the far right, and in San Bernardino County east of Los Angeles, Deputy District Attorney Michael Selyem has been placed on suspension and paid leave for incendiary attacks on the Southern California congresswoman that are being described as racist and misogynist as well as threatening.
Officially announcing the prosecutor’s suspension on Monday, San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos stressed that his office does not “condone hate, discrimination or incitement of violence.”
The 50-year-old Selyem’s attacks on Waters occurred on his Facebook page, where he posted, “Being a loud-mouthed cunt in the ghetto you would think someone would have shot this bitch by now.” The prosecutor’s Facebook page has since been deleted, although the San Bernardino Sun published screenshots of his tirades against her.
An ardent supporter of President Donald Trump, Selyem lambasted Waters in response to her criticisms of Trump’s immigration policies. But his racism doesn’t end with Waters. Selyem has been with the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office for 12 years and has been the lead prosecutor in a unit combating street gangs—and one of his posts discussing predominantly Latino gangs depicted a man in a giant sombrero with the words “Mexican word of the day: hide.”
Zeke Hernandez, president of the Santa Ana League of United Latin American Citizens No. 147, has asserted that suspending Selyem is not enough—the San Bernardino County’s District Attorney’s Office needs to fire him permanently.
Hernandez told the San Bernardino Sun, “It is disgusting that a public official sworn to protect the public would have these ugly viewpoints.”
Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar is also calling for Selyem to be fired. On Twitter, Aguilar—who represents San Bernardino County in the U.S. House of Representatives and is seeking relection in November—posted, “We cannot allow racism and bigotry to have a place in our society, especially not in our government. The comments made by Deputy District Attorney Michael Selyem are unacceptable, and he should be fired immediately.”
Selyem’s attacks on Waters came at a time when the congresswoman has been the target of death threats because of her vehement criticism of Trump’s immigration policies. One of them came from a 44-year-old Trump supporter who—according to Waters’ Washington, DC office—was arrested after leaving a voicemail that called her the n-word and said, “If you continue to make threats toward the president, you’re going to wind up dead, Maxine, ’cause we’ll kill you.” Waters’ office notified the FBI after hearing the voicemail.
Waters never threatened Trump or encouraged violence against the president, although she has urged critics of his immigration policies to be as outspoken as possible.
Other targets of Selyem’s venom, according to the San Bernardino Sun, have included two former first ladies: Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama. Selyem posted a doctored picture of Obama saying, “Trump grabbed my penis.” And in another post, Selyem mentioned Clinton while explaining why he believed that white immigrants were preferable to non-white ones.
“I am all for white males immigrating here legally and starting a business,” Selyem posted. “It is the terrorist assholes sneaking in here wanting to kill me an (sic) my family that I am opposed to. I cannot believe how shallow Democrats are. They must really think people are stupid. I guess that is evident because they actually thought Hilary (sic) Clinton could win a presidential election… TWICE!!! LMFAO!!!”
After seeing some of Selyem’s posts, Pedro Cala—an accountant in Southern California—forwarded screenshots of them to public officials and the Southern California News Group. Cala has been outspoken in his assertions that someone with those views doesn’t belong in the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office.
Cala, quoted in the San Bernardino Sun, said of Selyem, “He literally holds the lives of citizens in his hands, and it’s just not right. I am disgusted by his spouting of racist, xenophobic and sexist posts. A person that harbors these types of views and feels such courage to espouse them with impunity does not belong in the district attorney’s office administering prejudiced and jaundiced jurisprudence.”
Alex Henderson is a news writer at AlterNet and veteran political journalist. His work has also appeared in Salon, Raw Story, Truthdig, National Memo, Philadelphia Weekly, Democratic Underground, L.A. Weekly, MintPress News and many other publications. Follow him on Twitter @alexvhenderson.