Former SF supervisor and recent mayoral candidate Angela Alioto says she just got too "passionate" at an April 24th meeting of the Democratic County Central Committee when she used the N-word six times in order to illustrate a point about workplace discrimination.
The drama appears to be escalating this week following a weekend report on the incident in the Examiner, and multiple members of the DCCC have come forward asking for Alioto to step down from the board.
Shortly following the report, on Saturday night, Alioto's home was hit with about two dozen eggs. As CBS SF reports, Alioto's reaction was, "Wow. Anger. Hostility."
On Monday, as the Chronicle reports, Alioto offered a full apology saying, "I went too far, and I am profusely sorry that I offended anybody." The civil rights attorney went further to explain that she's been involved in multiple lawsuits involving discrimination in the workplace, including in SF city government, and "You do not sugarcoat or whitewash that word when you’re in litigation mode."
BREAKING: Somebody just egg-bombed the home of Angela Alioto, @AngelaforMayor former mayoral candidate, supervisor and civil rights attorney. This, just days following a meeting where she used a racial epithet to describe some of the language used against her clients. pic.twitter.com/38QCJH9nDb— Joe Vazquez (@joenewsman) May 5, 2019
She says she was in "a teaching zone" when she made the comments during the meeting, and she says, "I feel so horribly that any person, especially any African American woman, was offended." The use of the N-word, she says, was to make a point about how commonly the word gets thrown around in city government settings. "I started giving examples of that word in my other cases to show everyone in the room that [it's use] is pervasive in San Francisco government," Alioto explains to the Chronicle.
Some attendees at the meeting and members of the DCCC are now calling for Alioto's removal, saying that there is no context in which a white woman is allowed to use the word in public, full stop.
Former supervisor David Campos, now the chairman of the DCCC, says Alioto's comments were an example of "tone-deafness," but he's stopped short of calling for Alioto's ouster. "I think something has to be done that, at a minimum, underscores that that kind of language is not acceptable at the DCCC," Campos tells the Chronicle. But he adds some nuance regarding Alioto's intent. "From what I gather from her comments, she was trying to be empathetic in some way," Campos says, "but I think that empathy got lost and completely usurped by the actual use of the word."
Adding to the tension was the fact that the meeting itself was a forum for African American members of the SEIU 1021 union, and Alioto was at the time trying to encourage union members to push forward with any case involving the use of the N-word, saying that its use, in any context, is grounds for arguing a hostile work environment.
Phelicia Jones, who is an SEIU member working for the Sheriff's department, gave a presentation at the meeting, and she is now calling for Alioto's removal.
But Twanda Bailey, a black woman and former staffer in the San Francisco district attorney’s office who also attended the meeting, tells the Chronicle she wasn't offended "at all" by Alioto's comments. She sued the city in 2015 over the use of the N-word by a coworker in the DA's office, claiming it created a hostile work environment, and a judge ruled in the city's favor. Bailey says she's more offended "by how the city and county treated me and handled the situation after I was called a n—."
The daughter of San Francisco's 36th mayor Joseph Alioto, Angela Alioto served on the Board of Supervisors for nine years, from 1988 to 1997, serving as Board President from 1993 to 1995. Since leaving the Board she's practiced law on her own, and specializes in civil rights and anti-discrimination law.
Alioto has recently been in the news as the attorney for Florence Fang in her fight against the city of Hillsborough over her lawn ornaments at the famed Flintstones House.
The DCCC will take up the issue of Alioto's comments at its May 22 meeting. Removing Alioto as a committee member would require a two-thirds vote by the 33-person body.