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Utah lawmaker blames ‘diversity’ for Baltimore bridge collapse

Phil Lyman, a state representative, retweeted and commented on a post that focused on a commissioner for the Port of Baltimore who is a Black woman.


Republican Rep. Phil Lyman sits on the House floor at the Utah State Capitol Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Salt Lake City.
Utah Republican state Rep. Phil Lyman bashed diversity initiatives in posts on X.Rick Bowmer / AP file

Diversity, equity and inclusion has become such a flashpoint across the country that a politician in Utah, state Rep. Phil Lyman, inferred it was the reason a huge container ship plowed into and knocked down the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, leaving six people presumed dead.

“This is what happens when you have governors who prioritize diversity over the wellbeing and security of citizens,” said Lyman, a Republican running for governor, said in a post on X.

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Lyman’s post included a retweet of the Young Conservative Federation, which wrote: “Let’s meet the Commissioners for the Port of Baltimore, starting with Karenthia A. Barber. She knows nothing about Ports, but she is a ‘diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) auditor and consultant.’”

Satellite image of the Dali cargo ship on March 26, 2024.
The Dali cargo ship crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on Tuesday. Six people are presumed dead.Maxar



A photo and bio of Barber, a Black woman, was included in the post.

Later, Lyman posted: “DEI=DIE.”

Barber is one of six commissioners serving at least three-year terms overseeing the Port of Baltimore. In addition to work on DEIB training, coaching and consulting, Barber’s bio includes experience teaching on the university level and being the first female chair of the board of Maryland Automobile Insurance. The other five commissioners’ bios say they also have a range of career experience, including in maritime science, shipping, the airline industry, corporate law and Maryland’s department of transportation.

Related: What we know about the Baltimore bridge collapse

DEI consultant Nika White said Lyman’s assertions were “not only irresponsible, anti-Black and anti-woman but also profoundly misguided.”

White added, “By linking Port of Baltimore Commissioner Karenthia Barber’s background to the accident solely because of her involvement with DEI efforts, conservatives like Lyman reveal their bias, ignorance, and willingness to say anything for votes.”

Neither Lyman’s office nor the Baltimore Port Authority responded to requests for comment from NBC News.

But Lyman, in talking to The Salt Lake City Tribune, blamed the posts on his social media staff, saying he did not approve the post before it went live.

“It was not our best moment,” he told the newspaper. “The post was a knee-jerk reaction to some of the things others were putting out there.”

“I prefer a dignified approach and sometimes the people who handle the social media are more provocative than what I’m comfortable with,” Lyman said.

The posts were still visible on Lyman’s account as of Wednesday afternoon, including one that called DEI “poison” and another retweet stating “DEI = Didn’t Earn It.”


Source: NBC News