Salt Lake City, UT

Hateful Email Draws Responses from Uncles of Salt Lake City Councilman

S. F. Mori

The hate expressed was extreme

After Mayor Erin Mendenhall ran for and won the election to become Mayor of Salt Lake City, it left a vacancy on the city council where she had served. A new city council member was to be selected by the Mayor and city council to serve from January 2020 and finish out her term on the city council.

Darin Mano decided to apply for the position. He is a Harvard University educated architect who had served on the city planning commission. He has taught classes at the University of Utah. Although he had not intended to enter politics, he had community involvement in Salt Lake City and wanted to serve. With twenty-eight applicants, he knew the competition would be tough. A few people withdrew their names, but it was still a large field of applicants. Darin was chosen to be the new member of the city council.

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Salt Lake City and County Building(Image is author's)

His first year on the city council was like no other as the COVID-19 pandemic had hit the city, state, nation, and world soon after he was appointed. After getting a taste of the work, Darin decided that he would run for election for the city council seat to which he had been appointed.

Darin grew up in Sandy, Utah. He is of Japanese heritage and is the first Asian American to serve on the city council of Salt Lake City. He has a great uncle who had previously served as a Salt Lake County Commissioner years ago.

As a teenager, Darin became interested in the Japanese American experience of World War II. Most of the people of Japanese heritage living on the West Coast of the United States were placed in camps during the war. Darin's grandparents on his father’s side had been forced to leave their Los Angeles home after the war started. They had done the voluntary evacuation and moved to Utah before the camps became a reality. They lost basically everything they owned, including a successful business.

Darin’s father took him to visit the Topaz Camp, one of the ten American concentration camps of World War II where Japanese Americans and their immigrant parents were incarcerated. Darin studied the issue further in college. After he became an architect, he was selected to design the Topaz Museum in Delta, Utah, where much of the history of that period is told.

When Darin decided to start campaigning for the city council seat that he now holds, he went knocking on doors in his district to meet voters. He had a list of registered voters whom he hoped to meet. After finishing up on a Saturday afternoon, he went home and found that he had received an extremely hateful email. It was from an angry person who complained that he had been awakened from an afternoon nap by someone who left a campaign flyer. The man is an assistant attorney general in the office of the Utah Attorney General (AG). His name and email address were clearly on the email which was full of expletives and horrible expressions of hate.

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Utah State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City(Image is author's)

Darin had recently been a speaker at a rally for Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. It was an event in May for the greater AAPI community in Utah. Darin had talked about the recent surge in hate crimes and racist rants among AAPI people. He had suggested that anyone who was a victim of that hate should report it. He decided that he should report the email which was obviously full of hate. It did not mention race or bigotry, but hate was clearly evident.

Although he did not ask for his family to respond to the hate mail, his uncles decided that they should comment on the appalling email. One uncle who is president of one of the Utah chapters of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), the oldest and largest Asian American civil and human rights organization in the United States, filled out a complaint with the AG’s office. Another contacted a friend in the Governor’s office and spoke to others in leadership within Utah.

Another uncle lives in California although he was raised in Utah. He stated that he intends to be a permanent resident of Utah someday as he and his wife recently purchased burial plots in Utah. He felt that the apology which the assistant attorney general gave to news media when asked about the email was weak and insincere. He thought that government officials should speak out against the person for sending such a hateful email. He filled out a complaint and contacted the AG’s office and the governor’s office. He found that Mayor Mendenhall had sent out a tweet regarding the hateful email which had been sent to her colleague.

It appears that over 100 news outlets carried the story, including The Washington Post and NBC which provided coverage immediately after the incident happened in June 2021.

The assistant attorney general was upset over being awakened from an afternoon nap, but the email expresses an inordinate amount of hate and unprofessionalism. It is unbecoming behavior of an attorney in a leadership position within the state—or anyone for that matter.

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I am a retired President/CEO of civil rights organizations. I have been a Mayor and California State Assemblyman as well as a College Instructor of Economics. I have also been an entrepreneur and international business consultant. I will be sharing articles mostly about life, politics, racism, travel, health, and relationships.

Salt Lake City, UT
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