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March 15, 2024 by MARK MISOSHNIK

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On a podcast called “Doomer Optimism,” Seneca Scott says he became political out of “self defense.”  He also claimed on the show that the uprisings of 2020 “disintegrated” neighborhoods in Oakland, telling the host a story of a week-long apocalyptic dream he had in 2018 wherein he had no food, no supplies, and no prospect for survival. Scott has since become something of a prepper, extolling the virtues of self-sustaining farming, firearms, and supply hoarding.

He called this “divine intervention” because he said the Department of Homeland Security released a report in December 2018 warning that grid collapse or foreign terrorism would kill 90% of Americans in the first year. LCRW could find no such report from the DHS. The claim that 9 in 10 Americans would die in the first year was written in 2008 by Congressman-turned-survivalist Roscoe Bartlett—something Barlett pulled directly from a science fiction novel. Bartlett’s claim was then quoted by former CIA director R. James Woolsey for an article in The Hill in 2017. 

Seneca Scott, the founder of Neighbors Together Oakland, claims to be “post-partisan” while boosting and organizing with the far-right. Scott regularly uses social media to harass and antagonize his political opponents, as well as promote far-right ideas and conspiracy theories. His antics highlight a far-right push in Oakland politics, spearheaded and cheered on by developers, real estate interests, and ideologues like transphobe Bari Weiss and climate change denier Michael Shellenberger.

Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Scott’s family owned a good amount of land in the area. He attended the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, widely considered to be the gold-standard for labor education. Scott moved to Oakland in 2012 to work with the SEIU, leading strikes against BART, the Port of Oakland, the City of Oakland, and the City of Hayward. During his time there, he also started a community garden and an entertainment company named Oakhella that has since distanced itself from him over Scott’s transphobic stances. 

Zev Kvitky, a 25 year union veteran, worked with Scott for about a year on behalf of teachers. Kvitky told LCRW that Scott was “talented but lazy” and said that multiple people who worked with Scott found him to be condescending, narcissistic, and disrespectful, particularly to women. Kvitky also distanced himself from Scott, saying, “I have no love for former colleagues who use our work to give themselves credibility, then stab us all in the back when they turn into grifting reactionaries.”

After leaving SEIU in 2014, Scott founded Neighbors Together Oakland, a nonprofit that bills itself as a “post-partisan organization of solutionaries”, alongside real estate developer and Bay Alarm heiress Mollie Westphal. The relationship between Westphal’s company, Monarq Properties, and Scott’s nonprofit is evident in Monarq’s landing page, which features NTO prominently. NTO hosted Compact Magazine, a purportedly “centrist” publication run by Matthew Schmitz, a former editor of a conservative Christian journal, and conservative writer Sohrab Ahmari. NTO is also raising money via GiveSendGo, a Christian supremacist-owned crowdfunding platform popular with neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and Proud Boys, including some who were involved in the January 6 riots at the capitol.

A man in a ski mask poses with a gun in one photo and his couch is set up to display several handguns, shotguns, a rifle, drum magazines and body armor and other such gear on a couch
Scott showing off his collection of firearms and protective gear on social media.

Scott ran for city council in 2020 and for mayor of Oakland in 2022, garnering only 7% in 2020 and 3% of the vote in 2022. During his run for mayor, he leaned on his union organizing experience and his relation to Coretta Scott King while appearing on Fox News, the New York Post, and Manhattan Institute publication City Journal. Martin Luther King III, the son of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, said neither he nor anyone in his “immediate family” knows who Scott is. Scott also accepted donations from multiple developers and real estate interests for his campaigns. 

Scott has since used the platform he created during those runs to push campaigns to recall both the Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price and Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao. Scott was also an executive member of and main PR contact for the Oakland branch of the NAACP. The Bay Area Reporter, an LGBTQ+ publication based in San Francisco, called for them to remove him from the organization, but the NAACP has never so much as acknowledged this, instead quietly removing him from their website. LCRW reached out to the NAACP and received no response at press time.

In the years following his failed mayoral run, Scott has become more unhinged, using his Twitter account to decry “woke” progressives, whom he calls “soggies” (shortened from socdem, which itself is shortened from social democrat), attack his political enemies, and even threaten community members. 

Scott baselessly accused a Sheng Thao staffer who was raised by a gay couple of pedophilia and insinuated his fathers molested him, prompting denouncements by The East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club and the Alameda County Democratic Party. He has also been pictured with notorious transphobe Chris Elston, sometimes known as “Billboard Chris.” He called it a “mistake” but has made multiple transphobic posts since then, calling queer people a “pederast cult” and falling for a recurring 4chan hoax that pushed the idea that the LGBTQ+ community was accepting “MAPs”—a fake acronym for pedophiles that means “minor attracted persons”—under their ideological umbrella. 

On Twitter, Scott regularly interacts with bigots like Ian Miles Cheong, Matt Walsh, Jack Posobiec, Peter Sweden, and James Lindsay, often to smear the LGBTQ+ community or promote anti-vaccine conspiracies.

Scott has a record of antisemitic comments, including questioning whether a Jewish council member was really Jewish because he wasn’t satisfied with her response to the October 7 Hamas attacks, as well as using a post where she tweeted the mourner’s kaddish, a sacred Jewish prayer, to antagonize her. Peter Liu, another mayoral candidate, sent a mass email complaining that he wasn’t invited to a candidate forum at Temple Sinai, an Oakland synagogue, saying, “I am sick of these corrupt Jews and their media allies deceiving the public.” Scott responded in the same mass email, calling for a protest at the Jewish temple. He later said that he wasn’t antisemitic and encouraged Liu to apologize, but never apologized for calling for the protest.

Perhaps most worrying of all, Scott has threatened multiple people online. 

He said Oakland City Councilmember Carroll Fife would “feel the 2nd” amendment, told a local journalist he “couldn’t wait” to catch the journalist “alone one day”, said if he saw DSA members, “it’s smoke and it’s on sight,” and more. He also threatened this reporter, saying once “the next phase arrives” and community members are “scared and hungry,” they would “remember what [I] spent my time doing,” which is troubling considering his penchant for displaying his collection of firearms of dubious legality. After LCRW published an article about a shouting match between police abolitionists and attendees of an OPD-sponsored anti-gun violence rally, Scott took to Facebook and Instagram to heckle our editor-in-chief, openly trying to find out where they live. 

You can find a comprehensive list of Scott’s bigoted rhetoric and threatening behavior on social media here.


Mark Misoshnik is a Bay Area-based investigative reporter. You can support them on Cashapp at $markmisoshnik.


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