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NAACP Angered Over Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano's Remarks On Recent Arrest Of Rep. Jamaal Bowman For Supporting Voting Rights

YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The NAACP is among a group of organizations demanding an apology from the mayor of Yonkers over a remark he made about Congressman Jamaal Bowman on a radio show.

Two weeks after Bowman was arrested in Washington D.C. for protesting in support of voting rights, there is outrage over Mayor Mike Spano quipping about his arrest, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported Sunday.

"We've got a woke squad guy that's in Congress in our district," WVOX Radio 1460 AM host Phil Reisman said.

"And he got arrested again," host Matt Richter added.

"Well, listen, they should have arrested him for his vote on the infrastructure bill, but, you know, listen I'm very, Phil you know me, I'm a very hardcore moderate. I'm very much in the middle. I think that there is ... both sides all have merits to their arguments," Spano said.

The Yonkers and New Rochelle chapters of the NAACP say Spano's remark went too far.

"To call for the arrest of a congressman, the first Black one to represent us in the 16th Congressional District, was intentional and we are outraged," said Kisha Skipper, first Vice President of the Yonkers NAACP. "White people weaponizing the police in this country is egregious, but when it's the mayor of the third-largest city in the state and the largest in Westchester County, it is deplorable."

The NAACP is calling for an apology, along with the Black Democrats of Westchester County and the Westchester Black Women's Political Caucus, as well as other groups.

"In this moment of the reckoning, of mass incarceration, and the understanding of unfair targeting of Black men, uh, it felt like a reckless and irresponsible turn of words," said Sochie Nnaemeka, New York director of the Working Families Party.

"Unfortunately, Mayor Spano is someone who, as mayor of Yonkers controls the police force, and this is this was just an outright threat on a Black member of Congress," added Theo Oshiro of the group Make The Road NY.

Congressman Bowman declined to comment.

CBS2 asked Mayor Spano for a response and he provided a statement, saying, "I have the greatest respect for the Yonkers NAACP and take their opinion very seriously and will continue to do so. Congressman Bowman was arrested at protests supporting the voting rights bill. I wish he also had the same passion for the infrastructure bill on which he voted no. My comments were simply political rhetoric, nothing more."

The NAACP told Rozner it still wants an apology from the mayor and to have a conversation with him.

Spano is the husband of CBS2 anchor Mary Calvi.

Late Sunday night, CBS2 received a statement from Tasha Diaz, the majority leader of the Yonkers City Council, in support of Spano.

She said, "In all my experiences with Mayor Spano, I can say he stands for inclusion and respect. He's no racist. People can interpret remarks differently when politics are involved, but as a Black councilwoman and a woman of color, I will stand with Mike Spano any day."

Editor's note: This story first appeared on Feb. 6.

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