One day after apologizing for using a racial slur, Maryland Del. Mary Ann Lisanti is facing bipartisan calls to step down from the General Assembly.
The growing pressure on Lisanti stems from her use of a slur at an Annapolis cigar bar, reportedly when describing a legislative district in Prince George’s County.
Lisanti, a Democrat who represents Harford County, apologized in a statement and, to the state’s Legislative Black Caucus, in person.
Nevertheless, House Speaker Michael Busch removed her from the chairmanship of the House Economic Matters Committee’s unemployment insurance subcommittee.
“I believe that leaders in the House need to be able to bring people together — not tear them apart,” Busch said in a statement Tuesday.
Other Democrats joined the chorus, including the chair of Maryland’s Democratic Party, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings. In a statement Wednesday, she said:
“While Harford County Del. Mary Ann Lisanti has apologized for referring to Prince George’s County as a “n– district,” further insight provided by some of her African-American constituents about the kind of political positions and actions that she has taken that are consistent with the sentiment reflected in her poor choice of words underscores that an apology and promise to undergo diversity training are not enough.”
Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who was in Annapolis to lobby for increased education funding, said that anyone who used the language Lisanti used should be fired, and that instead of having a conversation about language, “we ought to be stuck on the things that will move us forward.”
The chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, Del. Darryl Barnes, also said the words were unacceptable and shouldn’t be tolerated in the House.
Among Republicans, Gov. Larry Hogan tweeted that “any public official who engages in this reprehensible conduct should do the right thing and step down.”
That was echoed by the Maryland GOP that said in a statement that Lisanti’s apology to the black caucus “was inadequate.”
Dana Shelley, executive director of the American Civil Liberties of Maryland, called for Lisanti’s resignation as well, saying “we should never accept blatant racism from anyone, much less our elected leaders.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, also condemned the racial slur and called on Lisanti to resign.
Other Democrats who have urged Lisanti to resign include U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen and U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown, whose district includes parts of Prince George’s County.
WTOP’s Megan Cloherty and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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