Anti-Defamation League Joins Call for HB Finance Commissioner’s Removal

Van Der Mark and pals in Santa Monica (YouTube Screenshot)

Gracey Van Der Mark somehow remains on the Huntington Beach finance commission even after a controversy erupted around her online bigotry earlier this month. As the Weekly reported, Van Der Mark recently deleted comments on YouTube where she referred to blacks as “colored people” and suggested they dutifully did the bidding of Jews at a white privilege workshop in Santa Monica she helped crash last summer. Van Der Mark also scrubbed a “Holocaust hoax?” playlist from her YouTube channel. 

But for all the online erasures, residents and concerned community members turned out to Huntington Beach city council last night to call for Van Der Mark’s removal from the post councilman Patrick Brenden appointed her to. “This individual has posted material on the internet that one could fairly describe as anti-Semitic, as Islamophobic and as racist,” said Rabbi Stephen Einstein of Fountain Valley’s Congregation B’nai Tzedek. “It is my urgent request that you look into this and investigate it and then take whatever appropriate action you deem as right.” 

The Anti-Defamation League weighed in on Van Der Mark with a letter sent to city council on Friday. “We don’t always write letters but when we do it’s because we feel very strongly that it’s an opportunity for you as the mayor and the city council to take the statement and do what’s right and accurate,” Rabbi Peter Levi, the ADL’s OC regional director, said at council. “It’s not about liberals or conservatives. It’s about extremists that are beyond the spectrum.” 

Obtained by the Weekly, the ADL letter echoed the call for an investigation into Van Der Mark’s remarks and associations. “There is ample evidence she has made bigoted and hateful comments and that she has participated in activities organized and led by white supremacists,” Levi wrote. “These words and actions call into question her ability to serve as an appointed leader in the Huntington Beach community.” The organization noted the Weekly‘s reporting and described Van Der Mark’s “colored people” comments about Jews as “classic anti-Semitic trope” in stating she should be removed from her commission post. 

And it’s not just antisemitism. The ADL also noted Van Der Mark belonged to a Three Percenters Facebook group and made Islamophobic comments on the social media site suggesting that the U.S. Department of Education is funding sharia indoctrination in public schools. Did we mention that Van Der Mark also serves on the Ocean View School District Measure R Citizens Oversight Committee in Huntington Beach? Maybe she’s making sure taxpayer funds don’t go towards constructing mosques on school grounds or something. 

Either way, the ADL sent the same letter to the school district. Trustee Gina Clayton-Tarvin, who appointed Van Der Mark in June, denounced her hateful statements and beliefs in calling for her removal at council. “I want to note that there have been two past commissioners who have stepped down when their actions and speech were deemed unacceptable by residents,” Clayton-Tarvin said. “I must ask all of you, ‘do you believe that a representative of a city commission should be publicly denying the Holocaust and posting that it is a hoax?’ Do you accept that? I don’t.” 

Kim Sorgente, a Huntington Beach resident and Proud Boys reject, helped crashed the anti-racist workshop in Santa Monica with Van Der Mark and others, including two scheduled “Unite the Right” speakers in Charlottesville. Sorgente came to her defense at council. “I can’t say I’m too fond of her,” he said. “What I can say is this; Gracey is a person of color and she’s darker than any of these people that took this podium and spoke against her. She was there to make America a better place.” Sorgente babbled on about white genocide in South Africa–a favored talking point among white supremacists–and how he hoped a similar poison doesn’t take route in the United States.  

Outside of public comments, “OC’s Scariest People 2016” honoree Chris Epting backed Van Der Mark in an email sent to councilman Brenden and others that he proudly posted on the infamous Huntington Beach Community Forum on Facebook. “Please do not give these dishonest cowards the pound of flesh they desire,” Epting wrote. “OVSD Trustee John Briscoe could not even get Gracey’s name right tonight.” Funny. Epting couldn’t either, writing the commissioner’s last name as “Larrea-Van Der” throughout the email in missing the “Mark.” Oh, and taking a reference from The Merchant of Venice in defending an anti-Semite ain’t too bright either! 

Notwithstanding Epting’s hissy fit, if Van Der Mark already deleted her “colored people” comments and “Holocaust hoax?” YouTube playlist, why hasn’t councilman Brenden dropped her from the finance commission yet?