Headed by upstate New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the DCCC recently hired Dyjuan Tatro who appeared in a 2019 PBS documentary series “College Behind Bars.” The series was about inmates trying to earn college degrees in prison through a New York state program called the Bard Prison Initiative.
Tatro, 35, has been in and out of prison since he was 20-years-old when he first got involved in a shooting and was arrested.
Republicans have not wasted time criticizing the Democrats for being soft on crime.
“It’s certainly on-brand for criminal-coding Democrats, but the rest of America will find it disturbing that a murderous gang member is holding a prominent position with the DCCC,” said Nick Langworthy, chairman of the New York State Republican Committee.
“Second chances are one thing, but I would have to question Congressman Maloney’s judgment to put someone with such a violent past at the top of their organization,” he added.
In a statement, a DCCC spokesman defended the hiring of Tatro, calling him an important and influential member of his community who can reach out to Americans and convince them of the need for criminal justice reform.
“Dyjuan is a formerly incarcerated person who has worked hard to change the trajectory of his life through education and service to his community. He has served his time for the crimes he committed and is now a national leader in the bipartisan movement to reform our criminal justice system and bring meaningful improvements to the education system in American prisons. Such critical work breaks cycles of recidivism by making sure more people leave prison with the skills to hold down a job and contribute to their communities.”
Tatro has worked with Maloney in the past. In a statement released upon his hiring, Tatro thanked Maloney for assembling a “talented and diverse” team, and mentioned that he was happy to join the DCCC.
“I am honored to be joining the DCCC to work on a number of issues at the nexus of politics, diversity and equity and inclusion,” said Tatro.
Tatro was a member of a gang known as “Original Gangsta Killas”
Growing up in a low-income neighborhood in Albany, New York, Tatro recalled hearing police sirens and gunshots almost every day, while having little to no access to quality education. The latter is why he dropped out before finishing the 10th grade to sell drugs.
Because of this, he received his first prison sentence when he was 20 after getting involved in a shooting.
In 2006, he was arrested once again after he shot two members of a rival gang. For this, he received his 73-month sentence (six years and one month) for racketeering conspiracy.
Tatro, who was described at one point as a “triggerman,” was one of 25 members of a gang known as “Original Gangsta Killas” who were charged in a racketeering case in 2009. In December 2010, he pleaded guilty and admitted to making no less than $12,000 a month from dealing drugs. He also admitted to conspiring to traffic more than 50 grams of crack cocaine.
Furthermore, he confessed to several more crimes, including an assault in 2002, attacking somebody with a razor in 2003 and shooting at two rival gang members in 2006.
While in prison, Tatro was accepted into the Bard Prison Initiative’s post-secondary education program. He joined the initiative’s debate team and gained national attention when his team went head-to-head against a debate group from Harvard and won.
By the time he got out of prison, Tartro had finished his bachelor’s degree with a major in mathematics. He went on to work as a government affairs and advancement officer for the Bard Prison Initiative.
Tatro called Capitol police “White supremacists,” and said rioting and looting were “protests” against racism
Tatro has been criticized for referring to police officers as “White supremacists,” and for many other radical views he expressed in posts on his social media accounts.
“The answer to White supremacists storming the Capitol is not to give more money to a different group of White supremacists whose job it is to uphold White supremacy,” tweeted Tatro. (Related: When everything is attributed to ‘white privilege,’ it ceases to have meaning.)
Two of his previous tweets talked about how he wanted the Capitol police force to be defunded, and how the problem with crime was “not a resource problem” but a “race problem, a power problem, an ideological problem.” These two tweets have since been deleted.
Several months before tweeting his accusations regarding the Capitol police, Tatro said the engineered rioting and looting that occurred after the death of George Floyd were “protests against systemic racism.”
“I don’t understand why you can’t CONDEMN VIOLENT POLICE and acknowledge LOOTING as a VITAL form of social PROTEST,” he tweeted. “And, how about YOU not use sterilized language when referring to state sanctioned murder while maligning protests against the systemic racism that enables it.”
In one other tweet that has already been deleted, Tatro compared rational police reform to bringing back Nazi Germany.
“To all those who want to reform the police because all cops aren’t bad,” he wrote, “should we just go ahead and revive Nazism because all Nazis weren’t bad? I didn’t think so. Case closed.”
Learn more about the Democratic Party and who they’re hiring to staff their teams by reading the latest articles at DNC.news.