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Pam Keith disagrees with Alan Grayson’s ‘Crips and Bloods’ comment, but says she’s not offended

in 2017/Top Headlines by

The attacks keep coming in the Patrick Murphy-Alan Grayson Democratic U.S. Senate primary, and it’s only the first day of fall of 2015.

Early on in Alan Grayson’s remarks to the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee on Monday night in Tampa, the Orlando congressman and 2016 aspirant said the Democratic Party was a club, but not just any old club, but one more like a gang, “like the Crips or the Bloods.”

The exact quote went like this: “A lot of people think it’s a club, like the Rotary Club. I think of it like a gang, like the Crips and Bloods. We have to protect our turf. Our turf is the American middle class.”

Some Florida Democrats in the African-American community aren’t pleased with Grayson’s comment. Well, at least the ones supporting Patrick Murphy.

“Some things must never be politicized,” said U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings. “The gang violence that has torn apart communities for too long has affected countless people across our country. The Democratic Party must always reject this kind of language, and I call on Mr. Grayson to apologize.”

“Congressman Grayson should apologize to Democrats and our entire community,” adds  state Rep. Larry Lee.  “No comparison to vicious gangs that trap our young people in a cycle of violence and poverty is acceptable.  With so much violence occurring in communities across our nation, glorifying gangs is something we should not be hearing from anyone.”

“The Democratic Party is not a party of gangs that wreak havoc in communities. We are a community committed to principles of justice, equality, and opportunity,” said Volusia County Councilwoman Joyce Cusack. “We shouldn’t put that on the same level with the gangs that only seek destruction. That remark does not reflect the Democratic Party I know.”

All three Democrats back Murphy in the race. Their statements were issued by the Murphy campaign.

Grayson spokesman Kevin Franck notes that, “Rep. Murphy deliberately and deceptively left off the following sentence, which was greeted by enthusiastic applause:  ‘Our turf is the American Middle Class.’ Rep. Grayson, unlike Rep. Murphy,  is a lifelong loyal Democrat, and did not say anything to disparage the only political party to which he has ever belonged. Rep. Grayson was speaking to a group of Democratic Party activists, and he said what they wanted and needed to hear: In order to fulfill our obligation to stand up for the middle class in America, we Democrats must be willing to fight for them. In fact, Rep. Grayson’s speech, unlike Rep. Murphy’s tepid and vacuous speech to the same group a week earlier, was met with a standing ovation. ”

FloridaPolitics.com also reached out to Pam Keith, the Palm Beach County-based Democratic Senate candidate who also happens to be of African-American descent.

“Congressman Grayson is known for his colorful analogies,” Keith said in response. ”Am I offended? I can’t say that I’m offended. It’s inaccurate, I don’t know anybody who has to climb into the Democratic Party. I definitely disagree with him.” She went on to say that her sense was that Grayson was hinting that there’s a sense of party leadership who feels that they “own”  the institution and “do everything they can to make it an exclusive membership,” which she says she totally agrees with.

It should be noted that there were several black Democrats in the room on Monday night, including Yvette Lewis from the Hillsborough County NAACP.

“Ask Patrick Murphy is that all he got? Is that the best he can do?” Lewis told FloridaPolitics.com.

Lewis says she has not yet decided who she will support in the Senate contest, but says that Murphy should concentrate more on why there aren’t more jobs for the black community and why the Democratic Party takes blacks for granted.

During the Q&A portion of the meeting, Lewis asked Grayson if he was a member of the NAACP. When he said he was not, she asked him to sign up on the spot. Grayson demurred, but said he would do so.

“Ask him, does he have an NAACP card?” Lewis says about Murphy.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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