The AAPI community in Orange County, Florida is speaking out against a racist image that compared Circuit Court Judge Vincent Chiu to Chinese Communist leaders Mao Zedong and President Xi Jinping.
Last week, Xavier Villacis, a Republican political consultant in Florida, shared an image of Chiu in between images of Chairman Mao and Presiden Jinping, Florida Politics reports. A big red “X” was placed over Chiu’s photographic with a graphic that reads “China’s judge.”
According to WFTV 9, Villacis shared the image on his podcast. At the time he was working as a consultant for Aldo Bartolone, who is running against Chiu to become the Orange County Circuit Court judge.
Bartolone fired Villacis and has said the picture is not part of his campaign. Florida Politics reports that he called the image “reprehensible.”
“When I was made aware of that, he was terminated immediately. I demanded that he delete whatever it was that he put out there,” Bartolone told FOX 35. “It was never my intention to target the Asian community, to target Vincent Chiu.”
According to FOX 35, Chiu issued his own statement after the incident:
“I am saddened that a paid staffer from my opponent’s campaign has engaged in such racialized attacks against me, especially in a judicial campaign. These attacks are nothing new to people of color and speak to how much work remains to be done in our society. But the way our community stands together against such attacks speaks to how far we have come. I have no interest in playing the politics of division. Instead, I continue to commit to the work of serving everyone in our community and striving for justice and equity when our community votes to retain me as their Circuit Judge.”
The AAPI community in Central Florida feels that those involved owe an apology to Chiu.
“Those actions have happened, it’s been damaging, and I think an apology is necessary,” AAPI activist Mimi Chan told FOX 35.
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