LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday formally accused two lawmakers and the former president of being implicated in a racism scandal. The racism scandal has shaken days of protests, police and state investigations, and public trust in city hall.
A 12-0 vote denouncing former council chairman Nuri Martinez and Rep. Gil Sediro and Rep. Kevin de Leon led to a meeting laced with crude and biased comments secretly recorded in 2021. It represents the most powerful step for the Council to publicly reprimand for participating. Latino Democrats planned to protect their political clout by rearranging council districts at the expense of blacks and renters.
Councils cannot expel members. A member can only be suspended if criminal charges are pending. While the accusations are largely symbolic, they add new weight to pressure from across the political community to resign Zedillo and de Leon.
Alderman Paul Koretz said he was still shocked by the offensive remarks he said had severely undermined trust in the government. Like it or not, he lamented that the recording was reflected throughout the council.
“It will take years to rebuild this trust,” Koretz said before the vote.
Alderman Karen Price called the condemnation “an important step in the long road to healing” and the toughest action the council could take, lacking the ability to expel members. I called.
Martinez resigned shortly after the tape was released earlier this month, and powerful Labor leader Ron Herrera was also present at the meeting.
However, Zedillo and De Leon have resisted widespread calls to resign from President Joe Biden and others, making them political pariahs among their peers.
Anyone involved in the meeting “does not belong to an elected office,” Koretz said.
Prior to this, a council meeting was called at recess so that the police could clear up the chanting protesters. A small but noisy group thronged the main corridor of the otherwise mostly empty room, slamming water bottles on the lectern, yelling and seemingly trying to shut down the meeting. They put up a big sign saying “Illegal”.
“Get justice now!” they yelled. “shut down!”
This led to a stalemate with about 20 protesters screaming and police watching over the group. The room was finally cleared.
Council chairman Paul Krekorian warned protesters not to interfere with the council’s business. “We will continue to work for the people of Los Angeles,” he said.
It is unknown who made the tape or why. This was published on his website Reddit just weeks before the November midterm elections.
During the hour-long meeting, they also made offensive remarks about immigrants from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, Jews, Armenians, and other groups.
Two investigations are underway that stemmed from the release of the tape.
Los Angeles police are investigating whether the recording was made illegally. California law requires that all parties consent to the recording of private conversations or phone calls.
Separately, the state is investigating how council districts were drawn and whether the process was rigged. It states that depending on the content, it may lead to civil or criminal liability.
Bonta said Wednesday that his office has notified the city of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Labor Union where the meeting took place to preserve evidence, which is a normal step in the investigation.
Bonta did not speculate whether the union building was widely bugged or whether the recording was an isolated event made by one individual. He said he would mostly turn it over to the police to investigate whether the recording was illegal.
The Council seems to be entering a long period of turmoil.
Cediro and De Leon were not present at the recent meeting.
Zedillo, whose term ends in December, has disappeared from public view. With two years left in De Leon’s term, he appeared in a series of media interviews, apologized, and said he wanted to continue his work on the council.
In an interview with talk show host Tavis Smiley on KBLA radio on Tuesday, de León reiterated that he would not resign. De Leon said, “I’m not what people pictured me to be.
The president’s crecolian and other council members said Zedillo and de Leon must resign.
“There is no real possibility that you will continue to serve effectively,” Mr. Krekorian said in a recent letter to Mr. de Leon. “If you remain every day, you will hinder the functioning of the council, slow the healing process of the city, hurt your voters, and reduce your chances of redeeming yourself.”
Contributed by Don Thompson, AP writer from Sacramento.