San Diego

Otay Water District Condemns Discrimination After Controversial Tweet

The Executive Director of CAIR told NBC 7, this is not the first time Hector Gastelum has made such statements

Comments made on social media by an Otay Water District board member sparked outrage from many community members--some even calling for his resignation.

Hector Gastelum's post on Twitter on Feb. 19 received heavy backlash.

In the tweet, Gastelum called for more countries to be included in the controversial Muslim ban, even using phrases like "subhuman" and "scum" to refer to individuals from those countries.

The tweet was also linked to an article that connected violence in Sweden to Muslim refugees. But credibility of that article has been questioned since it was published last month.

Now, the San Diego office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is calling on the community to hold Gastelum accountable for his actions.

Hanif Mohebi, Executive Director of CAIR told NBC 7, this is not the first time Gastelum has made such statements.

"There seems to be a pattern. There's a pattern of him projecting Islamophobic, anti-Muslim rethoric," Mohebi said.

Mohebi added that they support Gastelum's freedom of speech but as a public official, he should not "generalize and use words that he used to describe a community."

This is Gastelum's first term in office--he represents Division 4 in the water district.

"If he is going to apologize, he has to sincerely apologize, accept his mistakes, admit it and promise never to repeat it for any community," Mohebi said.

He added that the community needs to come together because it's a much bigger issue. 

"It's beyond just this case. What do we do as a community, as a city, as a county when our public officials, the very people that represent a community come up with these bigoted views," Mohebi said. "How do we deal with that?"

Gastelum attended Wednesday's board meeting but did not comment on the issue.

Meanwhile, the water board voted on a resolution, mostly symbolic, that condemns discrimination. 

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