DC council member apologizes again for anti-Semitic Facebook video, declares ‘a new beginning’

WASHINGTON — A D.C. Council member has apologized again Monday for posting a video on Friday that echoed an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, claiming that a wealthy Jewish family is controlling the weather.

“Today was a new beginning for me,” said Council member Trayon White, D-Ward 8. “My job now is to take full responsibility for any actions I have participated in that [were] derogatory or [defamatory] to anyone. That’s not who I am and not what I do.”

He again sent his “apologies to the Jewish community” and said he was meeting with a group of rabbis later Monday afternoon. He then walked away, ignoring questions from reporters.

White had apologized Sunday on his social media platforms, saying, “I work very closely with the Jewish community and never want to offend anyone, especially with anti-Semitic remarks.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser wouldn’t say Monday whether White should resign, but said he was “answerable to the community.” She said “We have no place for [anti-Semitism] in our community,” and that by reading White’s apology, she learned “I learned that he did not realize and did not intend for those comments to be anti-Semitic.”

She added, “We’re resilient because we are inclusive and diverse.”

Council member Eilssa Silverman, I-At Large, said in a statement Monday that she had spoken with White; she added that “he expressed to me that he did not realize that referencing the Rothschild family would be construed as anti-Semitic, and he apologized for the comments.”

She added, “We both agreed that hate speech of any kind has no place at the D.C. Council or in our city. I believe that Trayon is remorseful about what he said, and I believe he is taking steps to understand why these comments were so offensive — not only to Jewish residents but to all who want an inclusive, welcoming city.”

D.C. Council member Mary Cheh, D-Ward 3, said he was “appalled” and “deeply concerned” by White’s comments.

“His comments apparently embrace irrational, anti-science conspiracy theories about an agency or group controlling the weather. We cannot normalize such fringe theories and conspiracies or we risk permitting the radical—or worse, dangerous—to enter into the mainstream,” Cheh said in a comment released Monday.

D.C. Council member Brianne K. Nadeau, D-Ward 1, told WTOP that White discussed the video with her Sunday.

“I believe he is being truthful when he says he didn’t realize what his statement implied,” said Nadeau. “It is my sincere hope that my colleague has learned from this experience …”

On Friday, as light snow fell on the District for a short time, White posted the below video to Facebook, courtesy of The Washington Post:

“It just started snowing out of nowhere this morning. Y’all better pay attention to this climate control,” White said in the video. “It’s climate manipulation and D.C. keep talking about ‘We are a resilient city,’ and that’s a model based off the Rothschilds controlling the climate to create natural disasters they can pay for to own the cities, man. Be careful.”

The Post said they reached out to White for clarification, to which he originally wrote, “The video says what it says.”

WTOP’s Jennifer Ortiz, Mike Murillo and Sarah Beth Hensley contributed to this report.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2012 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He went to George Washington University as an undergraduate and is regularly surprised at the changes to the city since that faraway time.

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