Latino activist and mayoral insider Joshua Lopez has resigned from the D.C. Housing Authority board under pressure from Council members who blamed him for allowing anti-Semitic comments at a rally he organized last Thursday at the Wilson Building.
"It became clear that this issue was becoming highly politicized and people were using it as an opportunity to attack my family and people I care about,” Lopez said in a statement.
Lopez’s abrupt resignation came shortly after the D.C. Council concluded a contentious informal discussion of how to respond to an increase in hate speech in D.C.
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Tension around anti-Semitic comments began to dominate political discussions in the District starting last month, when Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White recorded a Facebook video in which he blamed the Rothschilds, a prominent Jewish family, for manipulating weather for their benefit.
It came to a head on Thursday, when a member of the Nation of Islam took a microphone at the rally on the Wilson Building steps. He called Council member Elissa Silverman a “fake Jew” and referred to Jews as “termites.”
Silverman called for Lopez to resign from the housing board.
Mayor Muriel Bowser had defended Lopez and Councilmember White and said she had no intention of firing Lopez.
On Monday night, Bowser summoned Silverman to her home close to the Maryland border and defended Lopez, according to sources told of the discussion. Silverman left without changing her mind about Lopez, sources said.
Bowser issued a statement on Lopez's resignation but has kept a low profile concerning discussions of hate speech.
"We will continue to move forward in our dialogue, showcasing how Washington, D.C. remains an inclusive and progressive place," she said.