The Los Angeles County Democratic Party (LACDP) became the latest group calling for the resignation of Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Tuesday, formally adopting a resolution that specifically notes the shooting of Andres Guardado as the main reason for the demand.
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On June 18, 2020, less than a month following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, 18-year-old Gardena security guard Andres Guardado was shot by an LA County Sheriffs Deputy following a foot chase. The Sheriffs maintain that Guardado had a handgun on him forcing their hand, while others, including his employer, said that he had surrendered, had only run away because he was scared, and that the sheriffs had destroyed several videos of the incident.
While many details still remain up in the air to this day, and the question of whether the shooting by law enforcement was justified remaining unanswered, many groups have nonetheless called for Villanueva’s resignation because of the incident.
In the summer of 2020, groups such as Black Lives Matters and the ACLU called for Villanueva’s resignation, followed up by an LA County Civilian Oversight Commission vote in October that unanimously approved a resolution calling for Sheriff Villanueva to resign. The LA County Board of Supervisors also became involved around the same time, looking into ways they could remove Villanueva from office other than waiting for the 2022 LA County Sheriff election.
On Tuesday, the LACDP added to the pressure for Villanueva to resign, adopting a resolution siding with the family of Andres Guardado and asking him to leave office. This was passed despite the fact that the LACDP had previously endorsed Villanueva in the 2018 County Sheriff election.
@LADemocrats stand in solidarity with the Guardado family, recognizing the systematic brutality of law enforcement that has continued to shake our county. Leadership…starts at the top, and while strides have been made to reform police culture in LA, it’s simply not enough. pic.twitter.com/VId3pRGl25
— Mark J Gonzalez (@MarkJGonzalezLA) June 9, 2021
“Tonight, marking the one year anniversary of the murder of Andres Guardado, Los Angeles Democrats stand in solidarity with the Guardado family, recognizing the systematic brutality of law enforcement that has continued to shake our county,” said LACDP Chairman Mark Gonzalez in a statement on Tuesday following the vote. “Leadership and accountability starts at the top, and while strides have been made to reform police culture in Los Angeles, it’s simply not enough.
“Sheriff Villanueva has had multiple opportunities since his election to reign in long standing problems within his department, which is why tonight, Los Angeles Democrats are holding him accountable and calling for his resignation. A failure to lead in Los Angeles, is a failure to serve Los Angeles. We will continue to hold those accountable who fail to live up to their obligations.”
Many LACDP members noted that only 6 months ago another resolution calling for Villanueva’s resignation failed, as compared to Tuesday’s vote that had 91% of the LACDP in favor of his resignation.
“We only needed a few more votes then. I don’t think anything has made it more likely that people would flip to the no side than it was in November,” explained LACDP member and the author of the November 2020 resolution Nick Greif. “It’s been six months and things haven’t gotten better. They may be more likely to be amenable to that to the ‘yes’ side.”
Support for Villanueva remains strong despite growing calls for his resignation
However, support still remains very strong for Villanueva, even with the questions surrounding Guardado’s death.
“He’s a polarizing figure,” criminal law firm researcher Julio Luna told the Globe Wednesday. “But he is also getting things done and taking a more gentle approach to handling things as compared to Sheriffs in the past. I’m not defending him, but he is trying to hybridize the need for a tough stance on crime with the compassionate approach that lawmakers and activists in Los Angeles have been asking for. He’s even angered some in his department by backing some state bills that punish first responders for sharing accident photos and removing ICE agents from many law enforcement facilities in the county.”
“Say what you will about all of that, but he’s at least been trying.”
The Sheriff’s office also released a statement on Tuesday defending Villanueva.
“Today, Sheriff Alex Villanueva began solving the homeless problem on the Venice Boardwalk, while simultaneously conducting the largest illegal drug bust operation in the history of the department,” said the Sheriff’s Department. “Also today, violent crime rates have nearly doubled, yet for some strange reason the radical left activist crowd has decided defunding the police is a good move. The LACDP calling for the Sheriff’s resignation is part of this radical agenda, evidence they have been hijacked by the far left, and a distraction.
“Villanueva will continue to remain focused on public safety, creating solutions, and serving our community.”
Villanueva is not expected to resign, although other groups have hinted that they may also demand his resignation later this year over the Guardado incident.