Harlem pastor and congressional candidate Mike Walrond insisted last night that he doesn’t think the government infected African-Americans with AIDS, despite a report indicating he found the theory “credible.”
Mr. Walrond, a Democrat challenging longtime Congressman Charlie Rangel, told host Errol Louis on NY1′s Inside City Hall that a recent New York Post report drawing on a 2008 story in the The Economist, did not properly contextualize his comments.
“What it was, the conversation in the magazine was a large and broader conversation and the question was, is that I believe AIDS was something that the government had infected African-American people with and at the time I said, for many people in the African-American community, they believe that is credible,” Mr. Walrond. said. “And there’s a history with the Tuskegee experiment. But I did not believe that.”
“And so I think they took the part where I said it was ‘credible’ and ran with that,” he continued. “But no I do not believe that.”
The original Economist piece described Mr. Walrond addressing accusations levied by President Barack Obama’s ex-pastor, Jeremiah Wright, that “the government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color.” Mr. Walrond himself reportedly “finds Mr Wright’s theory that the government concocted the AIDS virus to kill blacks credible”–though his campaign spokeswoman, like Mr. Walrond, has aggressively denied the Harlem pastor holds that view.
Mr. Walrond, who works for Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, is running in the northern Mahattan and Bronx district against Mr. Rangel and State Senator Adriano Espaillat. Mr. Rangel has held the seat since 1971.