Representative Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.) was caught on hot mic on Tuesday admitting that he only wanted to speak at a George Floyd rally because of his upcoming primary.
The rally was led by Bronx Borough president Ruben Diaz Jr. Engel, whose district covers parts of the Bronx, has not returned from Washington, D.C., for months during the coronavirus pandemic.
Diaz responds, “Don’t do that to me.”
(h/t @News12BX livestream) pic.twitter.com/eQnkzLiEId
— Emily Ngo (@emilyngo) June 2, 2020
When Engel asked Diaz to be allowed to address the crowd, Diaz answered “there’s just too many folks here” who were scheduled to speak.
“If I didn’t have a primary I wouldn’t care,” Engel said. Diaz, shaking his head, responded “Don’t to this to me. We’re not going to do this.”
Engel has served in his district since 2013, but faces a heated primary contest this election season. Progressive groups have united around a single candidate, Jumaal Bowman, who is backed by Justice Democrats and the New York Working Families Party. Another primary challenger, Andom Ghebreghiorgis, dropped out of the race to endorse Bowman.
“From the very beginning, [Ghebreghiorgis and I] were fighting for the same things,” Bowman told NY1 on Monday. “He also believes in a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, getting big money out of politics and really centering the working class and empowering the people in this district who have been neglected.”
Ghebreghiorgis said of himself and Bowman, “There’s a lot of alignment we have in terms of our policies….We see right now protests throughout the country around the idea of institutionalized racism as black men.”
Engel’s request to speak at the rally comes after massive demonstrations against the death of George Floyd, an African American man killed during his arrest by white police officers. Demonstrations have spiraled out of control in major cities, with New York seeing widespread looting including in Engel’s district. At the same time, areas of the Bronx have also seen some of the highest coronavirus death rates in the city.