LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles City Council formally rebuked two members and its former president on October 26 for their involvement in a racism scandal that has led to days of protests, police and state investigations and shaken public faith in City Hall.
The 12-0 vote to censure former council President Nury Martinez and Councilmen Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León represented the strongest step the council can take to publicly reprimand them for their participation in a secretly recorded 2021 meeting laced with crude, bigoted comments, in which the Latino Democrats schemed to protect their political clout in the redrawing of council districts at the expense of Blacks and renters.
The council cannot expel members—it can only suspend a member when criminal charges are pending. While censure is largely symbolic, it adds new weight to the pressure coming from across the political spectrum for Cedillo and de León to resign.
Councilman Curren Price called the censure a “crucial step in a long road to healing” and the harshest measure the council could take, lacking the ability to expel members.
Ms. Martinez resigned shortly after the release of the tape earlier in October, along with a powerful labor leader, Ron Herrera, who also attended the meeting.
However, Cedillo and de León have resisted widespread calls to step down, including from President Joe Biden, and have become political pariahs among their colleagues.
Anyone involved in the meeting “does not belong in elected office,” Mr. Koretz said.
Earlier, the council meeting was called into recess to allow police to clear chanting protesters. A small but noisy group crowded into the main aisle of an otherwise mostly empty chamber, banged water bottles on a lectern, whooped and shouted in what appeared to be an effort to shut down the meeting. They unrolled a large sign calling the council “illegitimate.”
That led to a standoff in which about 20 protesters continued shouting as police officers watched over the group. Eventually, the room was cleared.
It’s not known who made the tape, or why. It was released on the website Reddit just weeks before the November midterm elections.
In the course of the hourlong meeting, they also made offensive remarks about immigrants from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, Jews, Armenians and other groups.
Two investigations are underway stemming from the release of the tape.
Separately, the state is investigating how the council districts were drawn and whether the process was rigged. Attorney General Rob Bonta, a Democrat, has said his investigation could lead to civil liability or criminal charges, depending on what is found. (AP)
ublishers Association (Black Press USA) Newswire Senior National Correspondent