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Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott has responded to racist online attacks in the wake of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse earlier this week.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – MARCH 27: Maryland Governor Wes Moore is interviewed near the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 27, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Getty Images via AFP)

During an interview with MSNBC host Joy Ann Reid on Wednesday night, Scott addressed the right-wing social media chatter, stating that Black men “have been the bogeyman for those who are racist and think that only straight, wealthy White men should have a say in anything.”

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Scott was targeted by a prominent right-wing X user who referred to him as “Baltimore’s DEI Mayor” in a post that garnered over 25 million views. This user’s posts attacking diversity initiatives have previously been liked and replied to by Elon Musk.

Anthony Sabatini, a Republican primary candidate from Florida, tweeted, “DEI did this,” in response to the incident. Another far-right influencer attempted to blame the ship’s operator, Synergy Marine Group, claiming it “promotes DEI” and is “anti-white.”

In response to these attacks, Scott stated, “We know what they want to say, but they don’t have the courage to say the N-word.” He further emphasized his position as the “duly elected incumbent,” adding, “The fact that I don’t believe in their untruthful and wrong ideology…scares them.”

Addressing Fox News host Maria Bartiromo’s attempts to link the disaster to immigration, Scott highlighted the immigrant workers who lost their lives in the collapse. He mentioned that these workers “came to this country to fulfill the American dream” and were “filling potholes in the middle of the night so all of us can use that bridge.”

Scott added, “We’re ignoring all the conspiracy theorists, everyone who’s playing bridge engineer at home…and understanding that what this is about is showing the world once and again that Baltimore can’t be broken.”

The tweet referring to Scott as a “DEI mayor” has been appended with a community note, pointing out that he won 70% of the vote in the city’s mayoral election. The post has faced criticism from several lawmakers and journalists. White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates condemned the post, saying, “You’re attacking the mayor of a city suffering a tragedy for saying, ‘We have to first and foremost pray for all of those who are impacted’ and ‘pray for our first responders and thank them.’…How on Earth could you possibly take issue with this?”

Despite the federal and local authorities confirming no evidence of the incident being a deliberate act or a terrorist attack, conspiracy theories have continued to spread online. Security footage of an explosion at the Kerch Strait bridge in the Russian-annexed territory of Crimea in 2022 was falsely shared on social media as footage from the Francis Scott Key Bridge incident. On the day of the collapse, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene posted about it on X, asking, “Is this an intentional attack or an accident?”

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