November 30, 2022

SHAMELESS: Lee Zeldin exploits tragedy in racist ad

SHAMELESS: Lee Zeldin exploits tragedy in racist ad

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The Daily Beast reported Monday that the MAGA Republican candidate for New York Governor, Lee “Zippy” Zeldin, is celebrating Election Eve with a brand-new cease-and-desist order — thanks to his misuse of a dead Black man’s image in a recent political campaign ad.


Zeldin’s campaign is accused of using images of a mentally ill man, Saheed Vassell — who was shot and killed by Brooklyn police officers four years ago — in the ad, which Democratic advocates charged was “racist and misleading.”

Vassell was only 34 when he was gunned down on April 4, 2018, in Crown Heights by responding officers from the 71st Precinct for holding what they believed, at the time, to be a firearm.

After the shooting, police discovered the object Vassell had been brandishing was actually a metal pipe that looked similar to a handgun. Attorney General Letitia James’ Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit released its report one year later stating that no charges were “legally justified” — but also recommended that officers should undergo further training.

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Vassell’s family members have been demanding the retraction of the commercial which shows security footage of Vassell pointing the pipe with a voiceover by Zeldin stating: “On November 8th, vote like your life depends on it. It just might.”

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But the ad remained active with less than 36 hours before the polls close in the tight contest between Zeldin and incumbent Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul.

Vassell’s family members on Monday once again denounced the ad and demanded that Zeldin finally take it off the air.

Saheed’s father, Eric Vassell, spoke about the ad’s impact on their family.

“Mr. Zeldin placed an ad showing him as a violent criminal. Doing so brought back grief and pain to my family. My wife could not be here today because she grieves so much the loss of her son. Today, I am asking Mr. Lee Zeldin to take down that racist ad,” Eric Vassell said.

Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.

Tara Dublin

Tara Dublin is a woefully unrepresented writer who thinks more people would read her cool rock & roll love story inspired by Dave Grohl than any ghostwritten GOP crapbook, agents & publishers. Follow Tara on Twitter @taradublinrocks

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