Protesters calling for the resignation of Councilmen Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo over last months racist recording scandal disrupted another Los Angeles City Council meeting on Tuesday, forcing City Council President Paul Krekorian to once again call in police and remove them.
Early last month, de León and Cedillo, along with then-City President Nury Martinez and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, were found to have made multiple racist and racial comments in an audio leak of the four talking during a district realigning meeting last year. In addition to the racist words, the four were also heard plotting to reorganize Council lines to decrease the power of black Councilmembers and others in the city.
In the ensuing weeks, all four made multiple apologies, both Martinez and Herrera resigned, and calls for both de Leon and Cedillo to resign have come from the majority of Angelinos, as well as Mayor Eric Garcetti, Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), Governor Gavin Newsom, and President Joe Biden. Protests have also been constant against both de León and Cedillo, and a recall effort being initiated against de Leon.
During this entire time, protestors have also remained a large constant. Many have gathered at Los Angeles City Hall during Council meetings. Some have had to be canceled or moved remotely due to protestor activity, while others have faced delays due to protestors not leaving immediately from the meeting. On Tuesday, the latter happened yet again, with protestors using a bullhorn and once again calling for all City Council meetings to end until both offending Councilmen, who were not present at the meeting on Tuesday, were off the Council for good.
City Council President Paul Krekorian gave three warning to the group, even asking the protestor using the bullhorn, Stop LAPD Spying Coalition leader Hamid Khan, to stop personally by invoking his name. When they did not stop, LAPD officers in riot gear entered and removed them by force, with Krekorian justifying it by saying “This is creating an actual disruption.”
Once outside, the protestors joined the larger group outside demanding that the Council stop meeting until de León and Cedillo were gone from the Council.
“This was again an indication of speaking over people’ voices, trying to silence them, intimidate them, threaten them — with a heavy police presence,” explained Khan.
Protests continue around LA almost a month after scandal first broke
At the same time, protests continued outside the Eagle Rock home of de León, with protestors now camped out outside his home. Many of the protestors have switched gears in the last several days, who are now also asking where the Councilman even is. While de León has been spotted meeting with black leadership groups, including a group in Crenshaw on Monday, protestors have continually been frustrated by de Leon refusing to resign and not directly addressing the people, instead giving indirect interviews and statements.
“We are launching a new phase of ‘Operation Resignation’ called ‘Where in the world is Kevin de León?'” said BLM co-founder Dr. Melina Abdullah on Tuesday. “We can’t find him. He’s not here, he’s not in city council meetings, he’s not in his district office. We don’t know how he can possibly be serving the constituents of his district when no one can find him.”
The City Council disruption and protestors continuing to camp outside de Leon’s home helped keep the scandal in the news, with experts saying that it is taking a toll on both Councilmen, especially de León.
“Remember, de Leon for the longest time had been quickly moving up the rungs of California politics and was seen as one of the next stars,” explained Maria Costa, a Los Angeles pollster who focuses on Latino communities, to the Globe on Tuesday. This is a guy who went from being a union organizer and was running campaigns to being a state Assemblyman at age 40 in 2006. Within a few years he was a state Senator and within a few more years he was President of the Senate. And then in 2018, he decided to run for Senate against [U.S. Senator Dianne] Feinstein. And again, it looked good. He got in on the ballot, defeating Republican candidates to face her directly, and got the support of the California Democratic Party from under her feet.”
“But then he crashed and burned. By managing to not get a Republican on the ticket, de Leon angered a lot of voters, with many GOP voters not even bothering to vote in the Senate race. Instead of smoothing things out and appealing to them, he instead went after Feinstein’s supporters, which backfired horribly. He lost, getting under 46% of the vote. Now not a U.S. Senator or state Senator, de León had to be a Professor, and managed to get elected to the LA City Council, pretty much the only spot he could get. And he was hoping to use that as a relaunching point, and even came in third during the Mayoral primary in June. But then the scandal hit.”
“This isn’t so much about being there for his constituents at this point as it is a final stand. Because he knows if he resigns he will never get elected again, especially with him now being known by many as a racist. It’s due in part to his own safety, but he can’t stand seeing so many of his constituents and Angelinos being against him now after all that. Some still look to him fondly for his immigration work, and he was expecting to be remembered as a great politician. But the scandal, and these continued protests, will be the things now that will mark his legacy.”
Protests are expected to continue against de León for the foreseeable future.
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