Some people just can’t read the room.
Rahul Dubey, 44, became a national hero overnight when he sheltered 70 protesters escaping alleged police violence in Washington, D.C. on Monday evening. Dubey happily let the unexpected visitors mend wounds, heal their pepper-sprayed eyes, charge their phones, and spend the night in his Northwest D.C. home. He even ordered pizza, all while police officers prowled his street, accusing the protesters of breaking into Dubey’s home and even—according to Dubey—spraying pepper spray through his windows.
Dubey did what many hope they have the moral wherewithal to do in a moment of crisis: Help those in need, regardless of the potential consequences. “If people like us aren’t going to open a door, then who the fuck is?” Dubey told the Washington Post.
But not everyone is impressed by Dubey’s heroism. Meet Steven Maviglio: Political consultant, former Democratic staffer, and founder and president of communications firm Forza Communications. He’s also a landlord—specifically, Dubey’s landlord.
On Tuesday evening, Esquire’s Justin Kirkland shared an article he wrote about Dubey providing his home as a refuge on Twitter. Maviglio appeared and replied to Kirkland’s tweet, “I own that home. A real hero pays his rent to the owner of the home so I can pay taxes that support our community.”
To the surprise of no one, Maviglio’s comment—qualifying one’s heroism by their ability to pay rent on time—was not well received. But his tone-deafness continued in a Washington Post article that was published half an hour later.
Maviglio, who lives in Sacramento, told the Post that he was worried sick—not about the protesters, but about the house. He said he bought the home in the mid-’90s but has since converted it into a rental unit which is handled by a property manager. Maviglio said that both life savings and memories are tied up to that home where Dubey currently resides, so he watched the events of Monday night unfold with trepidation.
From the Washington Post:
Around 11 p.m., he phoned Dubey. It was the first time they had ever spoken, he said.
“I just called and said, ‘Hey, I’m the person who owns the house. I just want to make sure it doesn’t burn to the ground,’ ” Maviglio told The Post.
Dubey assured him everyone inside was peaceful. Maviglio described the conversation as “very cordial” but said he went to sleep with images in his head of the house going up in flames.
“I appreciate what he did. I sympathize with the cause,” said Maviglio, 61. “But he wasn’t taking any risk by doing that. It was my property that he was putting at risk.”
That Maviglio didn’t believe Dubey was taking any risk by inviting dozens of strangers into his home is incredible: The deadly covid-19 virus sweeping the nation hasn’t paused for the protests, and police have harmed citizens for far less. But Maviglio’s glib commentary didn’t stop there.
Compounding his concerns, Maviglio said, is that Dubey is three months late on rent — a contention Dubey disputes. He said he had missed one month because his consulting work had dried up amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I don’t mean to disparage the guy, as he’s being held up as this good Samaritan, but that also means paying your rent,” he said.
Complaining about late rent during an economy-busting pandemic—and prioritizing the structural stability of a home over the lives of its occupants and the community he claims to care about—is more than enough to make someone the Internet Bad Guy for the day, and Maviglio accomplished this with ease.
Maviglio has since attempted to tweet through the criticism, retweeting posts that disparage Republicans and supports the nationwide protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd. Shortly after posting his tweet suggesting that Dubey wasn’t a real hero, he tweeted a Los Angeles Times op-ed by basketball icon Kareem Abdul-Jabar titled, “Don’t understand the protests? What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge.” Ironically, Adbul-Jabar’s column condemns the same people that Maviglio has come to represent as the uprisings continue:
I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burn. But African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer.
So what you see when you see black protesters depends on whether you’re living in that burning building or watching it on TV with a bowl of corn chips in your lap waiting for “NCIS” to start.”
It’s clear that Maviglio is the corn chip guy.