Derrick Gibson, the Republican gubernatorial candidate for New York, told Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou to “Go back to China” before daring her to call him a racist in a Tweet on Monday.
Niou responded, “You’re a racist.”
The 38-year-old Taiwanese American politician had posted a tweet earlier that day about a large group of New York City police officers riding the subway without masks.
“It honestly takes a lot to take a heartbreaking tragedy and a family’s moment of mourning and turn it into a frightening show of intimidation for the whole city and be a massive health risk to every New Yorker,” Niou wrote. “But they somehow did it.”
“Go back to China. Now call me a racist,” Gibson wrote in response to the tweet.
The officers came from a memorial for New York City police officer Jason Rivera, who was killed after responding to a domestic violence call late last month. The unmasked officers drew criticism from other social media users who stated that the memorial should not be considered an excuse to potentially endanger the safety and wellbeing of other subway passengers.
In a separate tweet, Gibson said he also never wears a mask while using public transportation, then went on to “encourage others not to either, it’s all a scam.”
Twitter users were quick to defend Niou and condemn Gibson for the racist tweet.
“Whenever someone tells another to ‘go back to’ their country, no matter the nationality/race, yes, that would clearly be considered racist,” one Twitter user commented. “Now imagine if someone said that to you or your family. How would you feel??”
“Why should someone call you it or point it out when you clearly, through your words, realize that is exactly what you are,” another wrote.
When Niou called Gibson “a racist” in response to his tweet, Gibson reacted with a series of tweets:
Gibson, a self-declared MAGA Republican, acknowledged “yes” to Niou saying “You’re a racist,” and also called her a “cop hater.”
According to Gibson, Niou has “no place in our government,” adding, “Your statement is a shame and you need to be removed from your position.”
While Gibson has stated on his website that he believes “exceptional morals are the backbone of any political campaign & that must start with the candidate,” he has long been a vocal supporter of the Proud Boys, a “right-wing extremist group with a violent agenda” whose members are “primarily misogynistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and anti-immigration,” according to the Anti-Defamation League.
In an interview with The Daily Beast last year, Gibson explained that he associates himself with the Proud Boys to “generate conversation,” saying, “I don’t have an issue with Proud Boys, so yeah, I put that out there so I could get a conversation started. To me, it’s not a hate symbol, and I know because I did my research. Now if it was Nazi symbols, I would not use something like that, because that was used to do the Jews in and I do not go for anything like that.”