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Today, the anti-Black statements of LA City Council President Nury Martinez, Councilmembers Gil Cedillo, Kevin de Leon, and LA Labor Federation President Ron Herrera were exposed. This confirms what we have long understood about Los Angeles’ Latino old guard – they may represent some of our identities but not our values. Their vile and racist statements are a painful reminder that anti-Blackness continues to erode our efforts to build solidarity and improve the lives of all Los Angeles residents. We need leadership and representatives that share our values of transparency and multi-racial solidarity. There is no place for racism in Los Angeles. Councilmember Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo, Kevin de Leon, and LA Labor Fed President Ron Herrera must be held accountable. La Defensa calls for their immediate resignation and demands a complete investigation of all parties involved for violations of the Brown Act and conspiracy. Accountability cannot wait for another electoral cycle.
Anti-Blackness is as insidious as it is palpable when we look at the composition of our jails and those relegated to houselessness. It is not a coincidence that Black people make up 8% of LA County, yet nearly 30% of the jail population and 34% of the houseless population. These disparities are driven by policies that are determined by the representatives of our city and county. Representatives like Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo, and Kevin de Leon prioritize policy decisions driven by their thirst for power and deep-rooted hatred of Black people rather than the needs of the most marginalized Angelenos. For his part, Herrera is a liability to the labor movement and undermines efforts made by working-class Black, Indigenous, and other people of color to build power. They masquerade as champions for “Latinos” when they are using us as pawns, exploiting our communities and erasing Black Latine people in their desperate ploy to maintain power. We need representatives who value the lives of all Angelenos and possess the moral integrity to courageously address the issues and policies preventing all Los Angeles residents from thriving. We recognize the “divide and conquer” tactics that white supremacists have used to distract and confuse the pain of those struggling while using Black people and immigrants as scapegoats for systematic racism, xenophobia, and capitalism that exploits and displaces the hardworking people of Los Angeles. Los Angeles is a resource-rich city with bountiful assets that must be distributed to all, not just the privileged few.
Councilmembers Martinez, Cedillo, de Leon, and Labor Fed President Herrera know their time is up. They can mock, attack, and conspire against values-driven leaders like Mike Bonin, Nithya Raman, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, and Eunisses Hernandez, but they will not win. We stand with the Black community, Councilmember Mike Bonin and his family, and Councilmembers Harris-Dawson and Raman. We denounce any attempt to divide and sew distrust between LA’s Black and Brown communities. We hope this public reckoning is a catalyst for accountability and an end to business as usual in the Los Angeles City Council and those attempting to hold political power over working-class people.
The fish rots from the head, and it is time we remove it.