The influential Los Angeles teachers union suspended its campaign on behalf of school board candidate Kahllid Al-Alim amid growing criticism over his social media posts and likes that expressed anti-Semitism, glamorous weapons and celebrated pornographic images, officials announced Friday morning.

United Teachers Los Angeles acted after an emergency leadership meeting Thursday night. The suspension represents a blow to Al-Alim’s campaign for the District 1 Board of Education seat, which represents much of South Los Angeles and Southwest Los Angeles. The teachers union has invested more than $650,000 in an independent campaign supporting Al-Alim and has organized field workers in his name.

“Upon becoming aware of the offensive and anti-Semitic content on Kahllid Al-Alim’s social media pages, UTLA called an emergency meeting of its board of directors,” a statement from the union read. The directors “voted to immediately suspend any campaign activity in Board District 1.”

One post on In an October 2022 post, Al-Alim said the book should be required reading in Los Angeles schools: “We don’t burn or ban our future! We don’t play,” he tweeted.

In a statement on Tuesday, Al-Alim, 56, acknowledged all or most of the posts and likes on social media, for which he expressed regret.

“I have spent my life fighting anti-Semitism, anti-Arab hatred, Islamophobia and all forms of oppression,” Al-Alim said. “I have spent my life fighting for equality for all people.” He also appeared to acknowledge the pornographic and gun-related likes, adding: “I also apologize for my graphic content social media likes. It was inappropriate. “I’m never going to do that again.”

Al-Alim emerged with the support of UTLA after a months-long process. He was already well known to many union leaders as an energetic community and education activist who could be relied on to side with the union on policy issues, including opposition to the expansion of charter schools.

Like other District 1 candidates, he especially advocated for black students. Unlike some, he supports the union’s call to eliminate the school Police Department. Al-Alim was a founding member of Reclaim Our Schools LA, a coalition of parents, students, educators, and labor and community organizations closely allied with UTLA.

UTLA leaders did not rescind the endorsement; They concluded that union rules require a formal, multi-step process that will be expedited, but will take days, compared to the March 5 primary.

On Tuesday, the union will convene its expanded 100-member support team in person. The next day there will be area meetings throughout the vast school system. On Thursday, the union’s Educators Political Action Council will meet, an organization especially focused on politics.

The following Monday, March 4, the Board of Directors, a 50-member body, will meet via Zoom from 5 to 6 p.m. The meeting of the House of Representatives will then follow, also via Zoom.

Withdrawing an endorsement requires a vote by the union’s 250-member House, which has the authority to rescind the endorsement.

After weeks of union-funded campaigning and mail-in voting already underway, Al-Alim could still make it to the second round. His own campaign had raised $24,302 as of the last reporting period.

Based on campaign spending totals, another top candidate would be educator Didi Watts, whom the union appears unlikely to support because a substantial portion of her career has been associated with charter schools.

Before Al-Alim’s troubles arose, this race looked like a classic high-priced showdown between a candidate backed by the teachers union and another backed by allies of charter schools, which are also public schools, albeit privately run.

Among the seven candidates, however, there are others who could carry the flag of the teachers union or make a good showing on their own if they can get their message out.

Support from the teachers union will not reach other candidates in time to help them advance to the November runoff among the top two finishers.

The next largest independent funding effort is $280,515 on Watts’ behalf, made by a Sacramento-based political action committee called Kids First. Contributors to this campaign are protected from immediate disclosure because they did not directly contribute to the campaign on Watts’ behalf.

The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor has also endorsed Al-Alim. The organization had not responded as of Thursday evening on whether it would withdraw its endorsement.

By Sam