DC official quits after rally where council member was called ‘fake Jew’

WASHINGTON — A D.C. housing official has resigned in the wake of a controversy over a rally he organized at which a D.C. Council member was derided as a “fake Jew” and Jewish people were called “termites.”

In a Facebook post Tuesday morning, Joshua Lopez, a D.C. Housing Authority commissioner, confirmed he was stepping down from the authority’s board.

“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 the post. “This was only creating more division (which is the opposite of what I wanted) and after deep reflection I decided to take the high road and remove myself from the equation.”

Lopez, who worked on D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s 2014 mayoral campaign, said he plans to continue his political activism and to continue “advocating for greater racial and economic equity.”

Lopez’s resignation came the same day the D.C. Council discussed how to respond to the April 26 rally outside the Wilson building that Lopez organized.

During the rally, one of the speakers called at-large Council Member Elissa Silverman a “fake Jew” and later shouted “termites” to refer to Jewish people as Lopez stood nearby, according to a Washington Post reporter who covered the rally.

In a Facebook post after the rally, Lopez blamed the “despicable” comments on an uninvited speaker.

Silverman and several other council members later called on D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to fire Lopez.

Billed as a “unity rally,” the Wilson building rally was called to show support for Ward 8 Council Member Trayon White, who came under fire last month for posting a video on Facebook that seemed to embrace an aniti-Semitic conspiracy theory that a wealthy Jewish family controls the weather.

White publicly apologized for those comments, but was later criticized after The Washington Post reported he used constituent funds to donate to a Nation of Islam event at which anti-Semitic remarks were made.

White was not in attendance at the rally Lopez organized.

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