MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – A South Florida elected leader is being rebuked by his own party and accused of spreading conspiracy theories about COVID.
For the past year, Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola, a Democrat, has been all over social media with plenty to say about the coronavirus. He’s had some fiery exchanges with critics online.READ MORE: Johnson & Johnson Single-Shot COVID-19 Vaccine Joining In The Fight Against Global Pandemic
“He has made numerous racist dog whistles, both towards anti-Semitic variety and racist variety towards Black people,” said Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairman Steve Simeonidis.
Simeonidis said it all began when Arriola mentioned in a city commission meeting that infecting first responders with COVID might be a good idea.
“If you make it through the coronavirus, will you have the immunity? Some doctors have told me yes, that it is true. Well, might we start thinking about is dangerous but bold with our first responders voluntarily taking one for the team,” Arriola said.
And recently, William Byatt, the executive committee member, said Arriola “was very clear that he wanted to make Miami beach less attractive for quote ‘certain cliental.’”
“Basically, what he meant by that was poor people and people of color,” Byatt said.
Byatt and others have also accused Arriola of anti-Semitism after he referred to Miami filmmaker Billy Corben as Billy “Cohen.”
“Well, like many Americans, I think 2020 broke Ricky Arriola. He is not the same person that we knew before. He has spiraled into right-wing conspiracy theory, COVID denialism,” Corben said.READ MORE: South Florida House Republicans Vote Against President Biden's $1.9 Trillion Pandemic Relief Package
Back in august, Arriola tweeted “jail Fauci,” a reference to Dr. Anthony Fauci.
And last month he compared the Black Lives Matter protests to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
“After that he has just been on just this completely toxic COVID conspiracy theory kick for a while,” Byatt said.
The conspiracy talk is why on Tuesday the Miami-Dade Democratic Party formally condemned Arriola, calling on him to resign from the city commission.
“This is not a policy disagreement. There is no room under our tent for our dangerous misinformation being shared by Mr. Arriola,” said Simeonidis.
CBS4 News reached out to Arriola.
He realeased a statement, which read:
“This is like being censured by a knitting club. This organization only knows how to lose elections, as evidenced by their results this past November. No elected official takes them seriously. They should focus on winning elections. If they want to censure people, why didn’t they censure Gillum – who was busted doing illegal drugs with a sex worker in a South Beach hotel. Apparently that behavior is OK with them, but exercising your 1st Amendment rights is not, if they don’t conform to the official party line. This is a perfect example of what’s wrong with the Democratic Party. They major in minor things.”MORE NEWS: Trump A Dominant Force At Conservative Conference In Orlando
Arriola went on to say that his controversial comments have nothing to do with his job as a city commissioner, and will be here at city hall for the next city commission meeting.