By Dennis J. Freeman
LOS ANGELES — The vile words uttered by San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorney Michael Selyem toward U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters through social media posts has riled up local activists and elected officials, who are calling for the ouster and possible disbarment of the longtime prosecutor.
According to the San Bernardino Sun, Selyem said of Waters: “Being a loud-mouth c— in the ghetto you would think someone would have shot this b—- by now.”
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, said “the public call for violence to a federal official is a serious crime. In this volatile climate, such a threat poses a grave danger to Waters. The shooting of an Arizona congresswoman and the recent physical confrontations with government officials in public places underscore that grave threat.
“The law is clear on public threats to federal officials. It is a crime. The U.S. Attorney must take action against Selyem for his violation of federal law in calling for the attack on Waters.”
For now, the 12-year San Bernardino County prosecutor is on paid suspension while the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office investigates the matter.
“The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office does not condone hate, discrimination or incitement of violence,” the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “Our community and the entire criminal justice system depends on having fair, ethical and unbiased prosecutors. Deputy District Attorney Michael Selyem will be on administrative leave pending the conclusion of the formal investigation which could result in disciplinary action leading up to termination.”
The language Selyem used hit a nerve with South Los Angeles activist Najee Ali. Waters and Ali have clashed periodically on many issues throughout the years. Despite their differences, Ali is going hard after Selyem.
“Selyem’s public comments are hateful and could be interpreted as a call to violence against Congress member Waters,” Ali said. “Law enforcement personnel and officers of the court system should not incite violence. How can a public prosecutor who publicly espouses such views be trusted to impartially administer justice?”
Ali said he will file a formal complaint request that Selyem lose his license to practice law as a result of his verbal attack on Waters. By doing so, Ali is adding more pressure on the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office to fire Selyem.
“District Attorney Mike Ramos needs to take seriously our calls for Selyem to be terminated,” Ali said.
Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, said bluntly that Selyem does not deserve to be in the capacity he is in as an attorney and prosecutor.
“Through his actions, Michael Selyem has shown himself to be unfit to serve the people of San Bernardino County,” said Holden, chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus. “Law enforcement officials are held to the highest standards of civility and conduct. Mr. Selyam’s statements poison the well of public trust, and his ignorant racism must be addressed immediately.
“San Bernardino is home to a large African-American working class population and given the targets of his social media rants, it is beyond clear that the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office needs to ensure that racial bias does not play a role when it comes to enforcing our state’s laws and, ultimately, eliminate those who do not possess the ability to be respectful and empathetic to those who are different from themselves.”
An email for comment sent to Waters’ office was not immediately returned.