Actor John R. Mitchell has resigned from SAG-AFTRA’s local board of directors in Philadelphia amid growing outrage about a meme he posted that depicts President Joe Biden with stereotypical, caricatured Asian features and text that reads, “Introducing Our 46th President: Sum Dum Fuk.”
In a statement on his resignation, SAG-AFTRA called it “hate speech,” but Mitchell defended the meme in a Facebook post, saying that it was political speech and “not meant to be against anyone other than this administration.” Previous posts show that he is an outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump, who resigned from the union earlier this month as the union was moving to expel him in the wake of the failed insurrection on January 6. Mitchell could not be reached for comment.
“It is with much regret that we have recently been receiving complaints concerning a social media post found on a Philadelphia Local Board member’s social media page,” said Sam Clover, president of the Philadelphia Local, in a statement. “We do not condone any conduct that fosters discrimination and intolerance. As a board, we value diversity and inclusion and condemn any action contrary to these principles.”
SAG-AFTRA did not mention Mitchell by name but said in a statement “on local board member’s racist meme and subsequent resignation,” said: “We are horrified and revolted by any and all racist speech, particularly so when it comes from within our ranks,” SAG-AFTRA said in a statement. “Let us be crystal clear: We do not condone this. We do not accept this. We will not tolerate this. Unions are democratic organizations and this individual was elected by his local members to serve on the local board. This does not excuse his behavior and we have secured his resignation from that position as a result of this misconduct. SAG-AFTRA rejects this hate speech and will continue to do everything in our power to bring it to an end, and will continue our efforts to advance non-discrimination and secure equal opportunity for all our members.”
In July, the union unveiled a PSA featuring SAG-AFTRA members calling on all Americans to stand against the stigma, xenophobia and harassment so many Asian Americans are still experiencing related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
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