Silicon Valley’s chamber of commerce releases few details following investigation into racist attack ad

Two weeks after a racist image was posted on the website of the South Bay’s largest chamber of commerce, sparse information has been released about how the image wound up on the site and who was responsible.

In turn, community leaders tapped to address cultural problems within the organization are pushing for greater transparency and a deeper look at the group’s ignorance about systemic racism.

At a press conference arranged Tuesday to reveal the findings of a third-party investigation, SVO executive board member Kevin Surace announced that the investigation had culminated but a detailed report would not be released for another two weeks.

Surace said that the initial findings did not uncover “any specific intent to post racist material or to stoke racial divisions.”

The image, he said, was the result of a “lack of communication and breakdown of the process between several people,” according to Surace. It was published without going through the organization’s proper review and approval process and was not approved by anyone “with the authority to approve such a posting,” he added.

The organization’s board leadership could not elaborate on what the typical approval process consisted of nor where or how the breakdown occurred. The organization initially referred to the employee responsible for posting the image as a “web administrator” but will not say whether any employees have been fired as a result of the image nor clarify whether the person who posted the image was employed by the SVO or worked for a third-party company that assisted the SVO with campaign ads.

The image that sparked intense public scrutiny and an unprecedented response from the SVO was part of an attack ad against a San Jose city council candidate who supported police reform. The black-and-white image featured a group of Black men in front of a cloud of tear gas overlain with the words: “Do you really want to sign onto this?”


The SVO quickly took down the photo after facing backlash and issued an apology acknowledging that the ad was “insensitive and racist.” But the fallout from the image came down swiftly and fiercely.

Over the course of the last two weeks, former CEO Matt Mahood resigned, more than a dozen influential companies dropped their memberships and board seats and the SVO dissolved its PAC, which was the organization’s campaign arm that supported business-friendly candidates.

The SVO now plans to get back to the basics of helping businesses in the community and release itself from the problems with its PAC, which “distorted the views of the organization as a whole and distorted the community’s perception of the organization,” Surace said.

“All divisions (of the SVO) must step up efforts to do more with our community members to, in fact, overperform to make up for what has happened and not just say ‘the PAC is gone’ but use this as a catalyst to engage the community,” Surace said.

The organization is launching a nationwide search for a new CEO following the resignation of Mahood …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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