The controversy surrounding Everett City Councilor Stephen Simonelli’s latest bigoted Facebook posts took an even more pathetic turn this weekend as fellow Councilor Rosa DiFlorio tried to minimize the situation by saying it’s not clear Simonelli was referring to Haitians. The story of Simonelli’s applauding of a racist rant and the community’s response to it has now spread beyond Everett as a Boston TV station reported on it Friday. DiFlorio had no problem commenting on the situation to Fox 25 News (Boston).
The controversy—which is only the latest involving Simonelli and racist Facebook posts—started when a city resident posted on an Everett Facebook under the name “Noonan John.” He ranted on the page about being cut off in traffic by a “nasty Haitian woman.” He went on to write, “Its [sic] crazy, some of these people come here with a bad attitude and think they can do and get away with whatever they want. They are rude assholes who don’t even know or care about the rules of the road. Some of these shitbags should be sent back to the filthy shithole they came from-fuck them!”
There was various back and forth following the post but things really degenerated when Simonelli applauded the vulgar post.
Enter Councilor Rosa DiFlorio, an immigrant herself, who soft-pedaled Simonelli’s obvious approval of the racist and vulgar rant. “I actually don’t see in the post that he names Haitians,” said DiFlorio. “Should he have made the post? Probably not, [but] I don’t believe it’s as bad as people are making it.”
Let’s take a look at her comments:
• “I don’t see in the post that he names Haitians.” That is true. Simonelli didn’t name anyone. But his “Hallelujah” reply was clearly in response to the anti-Haitian rant. DiFlorio knows this. I have corresponded with her on Facebook before and she knows how to read a thread. She is no Facebook newbie. It’s insulting for her to even suggest Simonelli wasn’t referring to the racist post. Even Simonelli himself doesn’t claim he was referring to anything else than the rant against Haitians.
• “Should he have made the post? Probably not…” Probably not? Probably?? Again, for DiFlorio to suggest that there could be some doubt Simonelli shouldn’t have said what he did is incredibly insulting.
• “…I don’t believe it is as bad as everyone is making it.” Really? What if Simonelli had cheered a racist rant against Italians? Or Irish? Would be as bad as people would make it?
Councilor DiFlorio, later in the FOX 25 interview, told the reporter she believes the groundswell of upset Haitians has been stoked by the candidate who lost to Simonelli in the last election, Stephanie Martins. Such a claim would be laughable if it wasn’t so contemptible. Martins has long been an activist and advocate for the minority population in the city. She did nothing more than object to Simonelli’s previous racist rants and his “Hallelujah” praise of other bigoted comments this time—just like dozens of other city residents.
If Simonelli’s comments are loathsome, they are expected. DiFlorio trying to minimize them, question their veracity and deflect them is beyond disappointing.
So let there be no doubt. This message should go out wide and strong to every member of the Everett City Council. You are either with Stephen Simonelli or you are against bigotry and hate speech.
Which is it, councilors? We can start with you, Councilor DiFlorio.